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'Southernization' authors describe the immense influence of the South

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NewSouth Books
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In 1974, author John Egerton wrote a book titled “The Americanization of Dixie: The Southernization of America.” He believed the South, and the entire country had become stronger as a result of the civil rights movement.

Still, he remained skeptical, writing: “The South and the nation are not exchanging strengths as much as they are exchanging sins. More often than not, they're sharing and spreading the word to each other while the best languishes and withers."

Nearly 50 years later, a former Charlotte Observer editor joined forces with a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist in a new book that looks at the roots of American racism and how it has indeed spread far beyond the South.

From the racist backlash against President Obama and the rise of white nationalism to the murder of George Floyd and the insurrection at the Capitol, the authors argue the “Southern strategy,” beginning with President Nixon, has directly led to the Republican Party of the Trump era.

They do still have hope for a more equitable nation, though, as the South has also bred civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Raphael Warnock, among others.

We sit down with two Southern writers about the powerful influence of Southern politics on the entire nation and their new book, “The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance.”

GUESTS

Cynthia Tucker, journalist in residence at the University of South Alabama, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, former editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, co-author of “The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance”

Frye Gaillard writer in residence at the University of South Alabama, reporter and editor at The Charlotte Observer from 1972-1990, co-author of “The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance”

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.