Two friends of mine have a new book coming out February 13, The Resilience of Southern Identify: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of its People (University of North Carolina Press). Authors Christopher Cooper and Gibbs Knotts argue that though the South has been through tremendous change in the past half century and that though many signs of regional distinctiveness have faded, southern identify rather than fading has shifted to new types of southern identify. They further explain that these new identities are more connected to a region’s folkways and place rather than to a policy or ideology. They add that history is every present and can be confusing for modern Southerners. Despite all the changes in the South, regional identification, the authors argue, is still relevant.
I decided to take a look at a few southern women who participated either in the Women’s March on Washington or in the other marches on the same day in a few Southern cities. I wonder, and I still don’t know if their motives and experience are closely aligned with others around the country or if there are regional differences in their motivations for participation. This question would be a good dissertation topic for someone. I want to acknowledge that men marched in the protest as well as some Trump supporters. I also acknowledge that there is controversy that Pro-Life women were told they could not march and that this seems unfair to some if since it was a women’s march. Also many people participated the following week in the yearly March for Life.
My friend on the left is a North Carolina education professor with a strong social justice agenda. Much of her work has focused on gender, race, class, and sexual orientation. This photo is from her participation in Washington and, in addition to her research interests and beliefs, seems to indicate she is also marching on behalf of others.
Above is a picture of the Women’s March in Austin, Texas. It’s important to remember that Austin is a blue island in a very red state.
Above is my stepdaughter and her precious daughter. They participated in the Austin march. Note that her shirt is Hillary Clinton’s reminder, “To all the little girls, never doubt that you are powerful and valuable.”
Above is another mother-daughter team marching in Atlanta. Note that while her daughter acknowledges the new President, she does not see him as a leader. Her mother pleads for what she sees as the continuing fight ahead.
Above is a shot of the Women’s March in Asheville. Note the emphasis on respect for all and the urge to vote in all elections. Asheville is also a blue area surrounded by red.
Yes, the South has changed. The questions are who are her women, what are their experiences, how closely tied to place,region, and social norms are they? Food for thought.