tv Lectures in History The South and National Culture in the 1970s CSPAN May 20, 2018 12:00am-12:51am EDT
kneel or raise a fist, but he stepped out of that line, >> as jews and said earlier, i have to be a good moderator and keep us on time. i think we're going to end this panel but it is time for the lunch break. at 1:15 for the 1968 panel. thank you for joining us. this was really great. [applause] >> next on lectures in history, tom lee teaches a class but the south's influence in national culture in the 1970's. he highlights the political importance of the region during jimmy carter's presidential
campaign and the rise of such things as nascar, country music and southern living magazine. this class is about 45 minutes. tom: ok, so talking about as i suggested the south and the 1970's, and in particular come the title deliverance to the that is kind of my book end but this phrase the southernization of america matters. be one of my to themes today. i want to start because this lecture will involve elements of culture. i want to start with two films f to bookend the decade. one is well-known, "easy rider." "easy rider," and i will go over these briefly and you are welcome to watch them on your own time, "easy rider" is in
many ways about a tour of the south made on motorcycles by folks who represent the counterculture of the late 1960's. there are some big name stars in this film, and what they find, at least as the movie portrays it, is a south that is hardly ready to recognize this countercultural model of life, a south that is in many ways still entrenched in its traditions, and in the end, if you have seen the movie you know that peter fonda, among them, is killed on the motorcycle by some local yokel, we might call them, on a two-lane road. that is the essence of the
message in regard to the south. another movie came out in 1972 based on a book by james dickey, it is "deliverance." this is similar, and yet distinct from "easy rider" in that it is set in the south, but it is the story of four four suburb, for -- dwellers, who are convinced by one of their number to visit an area of north georgia that is about to be dammed and flooded. it is a chance to float a river, a wild river. and they go, and as the image would suggest, they meet interesting characters, representative of that sort of that backward south. we spent a lot of time talking about identity and southern
symbolism and representations of the south. they start down the river only to be waylaid by a group of locals from far back in the hills. things go horribly, horribly wrong, a member of the group is killed, and ultimately the only way out of the river is to fight their way out, and what you have is least suburbanites wanting a taste of the wild, the extraordinary, who get more than they bargained for. and they have to deal with the ethics of that as the movie concludes. you have a modern south pitted against what you might see as a traditional south, a south of technology pitted against a south that harkens back to an older time.
represented in "deliverance" are these vestiges of southern otherness, and in many ways the south has been the other in american history, and that is part of the theme for today. going back to 1974, a fellow by the name of john egerton in the "americanization of dixie" explored how in the wake of the civil rights movement and the 1970's, the south seem to be disappearing, but in another way the south seem to be expanding. one term a historian has used, which i'm not sure how good of a term it is to use, but we will use it, malignancy. like a cancer, the south spreading into the rest of the nation, spreading its characteristics, most negative.
his question had to do in part with southern identity, will the south survive? is the south becoming too much like the rest united states to retain its regional identity? that has been a long time search, longtime question. in "anack to the 1950's, asking ar dixie," similar question with the emergence of the civil rights movement. what we are talking about given world war ii and postwar economics, it seems a reasonable question, will the south as it has been known certainly prior to world war ii continue to exist? will it persist? again, egerton goes further, asking a question of is it
possible that the south even as it becomes more like america is influencing the rest of the united states in negative ways? the problems associated with the south are now expanding out to the rest of the united states. i want to start exploring that question with the election of 1968. we did not cover this as fully as i had hoped to before the break. 1968 was a pivotal election. you had a number of events, including the assassination of martin luther king jr., bobby kennedy, a president, lyndon johnson who essentially said he would not be running for a second term, all early in 1968. leading up to this election in which you had hubert humphrey as
the democratic company, richard nixon as the republican nominee, and you had a character and individual i introduced a week or so back of course, george wallace, in this case in 1968 running as an independent. nixon emerges as the winner. nixon comes from southern california, and i told you some of this last week so we will not go over all of it again, a quaker background religiously, but in 1968 he seeks to make the south an integral part of his election plan, of his campaign. he talks about broadly america, and he talks about a silent majority, the people who are not necessarily out protesting in the streets or on college campuses. and ultimately what emerges with this appeal to law and order,
this appeal to a constituency that often turned out to be quite white, and quite southern, but a constituency that ultimately will become the core, the bedrock of nixon's rise and his success again in 1972. this map shows the outcome of the 1968 election. you will notice that nixon wins a wide swath. across the upper south and all the way out west. humphrey up in new england, the atlantic states, and texas, but you will notice the yellow. george wallace, as we talked about last time, wallace as early as 1964 was running on a strategy nationally that took a lot of his segregationist talk from the early 1960's and on the
national stage shifted more towards more broad categories of conservatives, such as federalism, notions of federal power versus state power and what the balance should be. talk about welfare, but also talking about the protesters. george wallace loved nothing more than to have protesters show up at his rally, because the cameras and the media on those rallies gave him an opportunity to shout back, to appeal to those americans, the "silent majority" who wanted to speak out, who went to work every day. blue-collar, often times, but not just blue-collar. he had a fairly wide appeal nationally, but in 1968, it is wallace who takes the deep south. nixon recognizes this, and he is not alone.
this idea of the southern strategy really emerges after the 1968 election, the emerging republican majority written by kevin phillips, in which he takes apart the 1968 election and sees an opportunity for the republican party to fully emerge renewed and the south will be a major part of that. this white backlash as it has been termed, it is sort of represented in a song by merle haggard the comes out in 1969 called "okie from muskogee." this is just an excerpt. but if you look at the chorus -- i am proud to be an okie from
muskogee, a place where even squares can have a ball. i could have sung it for you, but i didn't. i want to play a little snippet right now. ♪ >> ♪ we don't smoke marijuana in muskogee we don't take our trips on lsd ♪ tom: what you are seeing is merle haggard performing at the white house. >> ♪ we like living life being free ♪
tom: that is the song he starts out with, "okie from muskogee." >> ♪ we like holding hands at pitching woo ♪ tom: the irony is, at least merle haggard has said, he did not write the song as a positive message about muskogee, or the people who live there. in other words, he was actually trying to challenge, sort of the repudiation of the freethinkers and free spirits and people who were trying to make their own way in the world. but, as happens with this notion of the south and this notion of backlash. richard nixon and others will pick up on songs like, ideas like merle haggard reflects in the song.
they see it as reflecting a way of thinking of their own. once he gets into office, nixon will demonstrate a certain level of conservatism. he is an odd character as president in respect to his policies and programs. one of the crucial things he talks about is busing. busing was a means used by the court to actually achieve desegregation of schools, but what begins to happen as the court orders come out to deal with segregation across the united states is that backlash against something like busing to achieve integration, not only in the south, but nationally. one of the crucial hotspots where resistance is hottest is actually boston, massachusetts beginning in 1974.
nixon seeks to get congress and the courts to put a moratorium on busing. it is not outright going along with notions of segregation, but what it allowed nixon to do is take that position as a conservative and win over, collect in essence, the vote to his right, which would be the wallace vote. that is how he is positioning himself as a right-leaning sort of moderate. he would also make a number of conservative appointments to the courts, including the supreme court, and he looked for strict constructionism. people who saw the constitution as set and the powers of federal government limited. in his administration, nixon had
to deal with unrest and events like kent state, the killing of students on college campuses who were protesting. that is not just in mississippi, as jackson state was, three days -- 11 days later, three students killed but at kent state, you're talking about ohio come of the midwest. -- ohio, some of the midwest. it is not just a southern issue. busing is not just a southern issue. nixon will also have to deal with economic problems. a term you might need to know is stagflation. coming out of the 1960's with fairly large expenditures for vietnam and the war on poverty, and the u.s. economy began to slow, the post world war ii economy began to slow, and ultimately what you ended up with was significant inflation,
a reduction in the value of the american dollar, that was connected with a stagnant economy. even with inflation, the economy was not growing at a rapid rate. that is an extraordinarily difficult position for consumers and citizens to be in. nixon responded in part, so that , by puttingngress the u.s. dollar basically on a floating money market, and even attempted wage and price controls to check this rapidly growing inflation. in terms of bureaucracy, under nixon's watch, we will see the emergence of the occupational safety and health administration, osha, legislation like the clean air act, water quality improvement act. in other words the point i'm trying to make here is that nixon's response and the fact that he was not dominant in
terms of congress as well meant that his presidency, while he sought to position himself towards the conservative side, he often ended up overseeing actions in the united states that still reflect bigger government and government intervention. he also had to deal with vietnam, right? lyndon johnson leaves office. nixon comes in. vietnam is still an issue. he wants peace with honor. he wants out. he does not want it to make it look like the u.s. is being pushed out. so he seeks negotiation, and finally in 1973 the united states is able to essentially get out of vietnam. also during this period, nixon's administration, you have the release of the so-called pentagon papers that reveal how the former administration, the
-- and the nixon administration had dealt with the war and kept information from the american people. he had some successes in terms of foreign policy as early as 1972 going to china, making inroads there, ultimately to open up better relations with the soviet union, and that is what the salt one treaty is. there is one more international issue that i wanted to mention, and that is opec. by the early to mid-1970's, the united states is beginning to feel the effects of restrictions on the free flow of oil. in the postwar period, the u.s. enjoyed low fuel prices. but by the early to mid-1970's, fuel prices have begun to rise and opec is restricting oil shipments. you put all this together and
you have the basis for understanding a certain amount of sort of broad american grievance. it seemed like in those decades following world war ii that things were humming along pretty well. there have been recessions, issues, problems, civil rights, mostly affecting african-americans, but now broadly, nationally, economically it seems like the u.s. is struggling. vietnam, a defeat? how can that be? so there is a lot of soul-searching going on in the united states. what has happened? what has gone wrong? what has transpired to create the situation we find ourselves in in the 1970's? the 1972 election comes up -- you all know the story. i don't want to review all of it. nixon runs for reelection
against george mcgovern, and there is george wallace again. wallace, as you know, will be shot, so in the end he won't be a particularly big factor in the race. nixon wins handily in 1972. but in the process, he gets into constitutional trouble, trouble with the presidency, and you all know about watergate. i don't want to have to review that, but essentially a break-in at the watergate complex in washington, d.c., by people who had been hired by the committee to reelect the president, ultimately unravel into a chain of events that lead actor the -- lead back to the president, not so much for the break-in as the effort to cover up the break-in. people within the administration made that chain, that connection, possible.
people like james mccord, john dean. the senate watergate committee begins to act and two of the key figures, sam ervin and howard baker. ervin, a democrat, very conservative. baker was one of the up-and-coming stars in the south. it is notable that they are both from the south. the investigations begin to reveal more, including tapes, the president declares executive privilege. the courts say no. he tries transcripts. that does not work out too well. you have to hear the tapes. he tries reductions -- redaction s from the tapes. ultimately congress determines
the move towards impeachment, and when that happens, nixon chooses to resign. so on top of the economic turmoil the 1970's, on top of what has happened in vietnam, you have the scandal of watergate. in essence you have a nation wondering again what has gone wrong? what has happened with our institutions, economic power, militarily, diplomatically? why is this not working out? spiro agnew had essentially been forced from office, former vice president under nixon, replacing him was gerald ford. a well-meaning congressman. now ford in 1974 finds himself thrust into the position of the president. ford will try. as far as inflation and the economy, he tries.
he tries to continue on the diplomatic front the work nixon had begun working with the soviets. but he pardons richard nixon, which cost him some of the electorate. and under his watch in 1975, television viewers watched their tv's as the last refugees are removed from saigon and they -- as north vietnamese forces take over the entire south. 1976 campaign, gerald ford finds himself pitted against a fellow by the name of jimmy carter, another southerner. not just a southerner, but a southerner from georgia. jimmy carter, this is the time
magazine cover from 1971, jimmy carter had been in the united states navy. he was from plains, georgia, grew up on a farm. in the navy, he had been an engineer, done submarine duty, and when he gets back he decides that he has a responsibility to run for office. his early campaigns are notable. first, he runs for state office in georgia, then in the 1960's he decides to make a run for the governorship of georgia and he is essentially defeated in the democratic primary by lester maddox. maddox runs a fairly racial campaign, leaving carter on the outside as a moderate.
in 1970, though, in 1970 when carter comes back running against carl sanders, it is carter who in the campaign takes the more extreme position. in fact, carter will drop off -- will draw off voters who had voted for wallace, nixon, and others. it looks as if he will represent the more traditional segregationist element in georgia, and he wins. but notably when he becomes governor, he takes a very different position, especially on race. let me read you very quickly at his inauguration, he says the time for racial discrimination is over. our people have already made this major and difficult decision. rural,r -- no poor, weak, or black person should have to bear the burden of being deprived of the opportunity for an education, a job, or simple justice.
so he emerges as governor as a southern moderate, one of many southern moderates. then he decides to run for the presidency. imagine this southerner, a peanut farmer from georgia, winning in new hampshire in the primary. what carter brought was a level of personal, face-to-face, charisma. not a particularly charismatic fellow, but he had that personal touch. he had coming as he did from georgia come from the farm, he had this down-home appeal. it can also be an negative. there are a lot of people who dislike carter for that reason. a lot of american saw integrity perhaps, honesty perhaps, in
this figure from georgia. it is notable, worth mentioning, that carter considered himself a born-again christian, part of that evangelical, southern element we talked about in other contexts. notice that carter in 1976 takes the south, minus virginia of course. and carter wins the election. at the inauguration, he walked. he gets out of the limo and walks along with his wife roslyn, which is astounding to people, a president who is walking down the street greeting the people like it is a parade in plains, georgia? on the one hand this was appealing to some, and not so much to others. so we ask ourselves how did this come to be, how does this come to be? how does a peanut farmer from
plains, georgia induct as the -- end up as the president of the united states? i want to talk now about a sort of transition. first of all, an economic transition, then a bit of a political transition. i want to make sure you are introduced to this notion of the sun belt. five years prior to 1970, five years before carter assumes the governorship of georgia, is selma. that five years, we can go further if you want, but it is a transformation of an understanding of the south attitudes towards the south of southern identity, especially by the rest of the nation. the sun belt incorporates not only the traditional south, the southeast, but it extends all the way over to the pacific
coast and southern california. remember we talked in the postwar years about federal spending. we talked about jobs coming south, about migrations flowing and people moving south. well that is what we have here with the sun belt. just to give you some to statistics, between 1960-1970 in the so-called sun belt the gross regional product nearly doubled. 1970-1975, texas alone adds more jobs than michigan, illinois, ohio, and massachusetts combined. southern plants produced approximately a third of the nation's electricity. southern states produced much of the nation's petroleum, which was significant with opec and all that was happening there.
this texas boom, economic zone -- economic boom focused around texas, helped to create cities like houston. by the end of the 1970's, houston was adding 1000 residents a week. can't help but mention the research triangle we talked about earlier, the space program, the emergence of new technology jobs in the south, much of it due to federal spending, spending on interstate highways connecting major cities and the region, but it was also federal spending in terms of disbursements. and what i mean by that is the amount someone is taxed versus the amount they get back.
in 1975 in the south, federal disbursements per person amounted to $918, in the south per person. in the northeast, it was $863, and yet southerners paid less taxes. in essence what we had seen in the south since world war ii was a shift in federal dollars that shifted the income inequality that we had seen in decades prior, or at least had begun to shift that inequality. southern states took in $11.5 billion more than was paid out in federal taxes. ten northern states paid in $30.8 billion more than they received, so it is a redistribution of the wealth of the united states that has been taking place during this period. it leads to a lot of what we
see, i mentioned houston, atlanta, the suburbanization going on in the south as well. what we see in those cities is the movement especially of the whites from the inner cities to the suburbs, so the suburbanization process, the south is part of that. but also part of that is a movement demographically from the northern states to the southern states. it is in the 1960's that the out migration we talked about begins to check, and by the 1970's, net migration is turning around and people are beginning to head south. they are heading from what comes to be known as the rust belt or the frost belt. the traditional manufacturing centers of the united states. all the south does not benefit
the same from this migration, jobs, or federal spending. the southern rim, places like texas, florida, along the chesapeake tend to do best. the map is not showing up terribly well, but you can kind of see, you can kind of see the growth in those rim cities, atlanta, massive growth. all of this economic change, federal spending, demographics corresponds to a cultural change, and i thought this one would be appropriate, winston cigarettes, right? you all don't smoke, i know. this is a 1971 ad, and because we're coming off thanksgiving, i
thought this would be a good one. here you have a young couple, fairly well-to-do, cigarette in hand sitting at the thanksgiving table as mama brings the bird. everybody in this most american of feasts, especially associated with the larger american mythology about itself and its story, and connected with that is the notion of winston, but what i want you to notice is right here, the traditional slogan for winston cigarettes had been winston tastes good like a cigarette should. and often times winston advertising would focus on people skiing or on the beach or stuff like that. in the early 1970's, it is winston's down-home taste that takes prominence. it is this notion of down-home. the south had gone in 1938 from the nation's number one economic problem, by the 1970's in part thanks to the sun belt, only five years after selma, to a
part of the nation that seemed the most american, that maybe offered possible ideas for how other portions of the united states would overcome what they were increasingly finding to be problems economically, socially, otherwise. how had the south done it? if you went back to the 1960's and looked at your tv in 1963, 1965, which is so, besides ultimately late 1960's vietnam, clashes in birmingham, assassinations in memphis, the mississippi delta with freedom summer. how is it? this is the crux. by the 1970's, the south is being transformed in the american mind, and here you have part of the story, americans broadly are looking for something wholesome, something traditional, something solid,
not all americans, but many, especially going back to nixon, that silent majority. even among african-americans, by 1971, discussion was beginning about whether or not there might be opportunity in the south. ebony magazine ran a special edition and an article, the special edition about the south, the article called atlanta the "black mecca." this is when the demographic shift is underway, outmigration slows, migration begins to shift. here you have one more advertisement, tying ideas about to anotherouth south. chevrolet in life magazine in 1972, the monte carlo poised in front of a plantation home, the
good life. what is the good life in america now? where has it gone? where will it be? well, in the south. culturally, nascar, which i know we are all familiar with being close to bristol motor speedway, nascar begins to emerge as a national sport and get coverage on the television networks. all along there has been the southern presence on tv going back to the 1960's. most of you are familiar with the "andy griffith show," set in a small town in north carolina, more or less. it is about small-town values. it is about a sheriff who does not wear a gun. think about law enforcement and the civil rights movement. it is about family. it is about community. and even as the civil rights movement is going on on tv in the 1960's, the "andy griffith show" from 1960-1968 is per
-- is portraying these values, and they are connecting up with the south. granted, and this criticism has been raised about the "andy griffith show," you don't see african-americans by and large on that show. it is very much a white vision. another vision of the 1960's is "the beverly hillbillies." folks from the ozarks who strike it rich. on what, think about the sun belt, oil. they head out to hollywood, and there you have a values clash of epic proportions. on the one hand, they seem like rubes and don't understand the modern world, but almost like trickster characters, they end up getting the best of those well-educated, wealthy neighbors, mr. drysdale the banker. the 1970's, turn that up a notch. southern living, a magazine focused on the south and
southern living for the middle class and upper middle class, becomes a phenomenon, all about interior decoration, the good life, and it is southern. on television in 1972, "the waltons," a show about a depression-era family in the mountains of virginia struggling to hang on to one another, the community, to get through the hard times. one of the most popular shows on tv nationally. by 1979, "the dukes of hazzard." i'm going to try this again. i don't really have time, so skip that. you have two visions here are -- here of the south being expressed. one, the notion of rustic simplicity. another, that of the good old boy. there was no character more associated with that than the president's brother, jimmy carter's brother, billy carter, right? rural, but having this and eight
fronts innate wisdom, porch wisdom, of the rural world. in terms of country music, the nashville sound in the 1960's had been an effort to take country music to a broader audience nationally. by the 1970's, performers are finding their outlet in what is called outlaw country. merle haggard would ultimately sort of fit into that genre, but predominantly, we are looking at people like willie nelson and waylon jennings. one of the most significant of waylon jennings songs is a song called "luckenbach, texas." the lyrics are effectively are, "let's go to luckenbach, texas, willie, wayland, and the boys, the successful life we are living has got us feuding like the hatfields and mccoy's.
maybe it is time we get back to the basics of love?" poetry, southern style. the point of the song is out there in mid-america is what is real, it is what is still there. "okie fromn a way muskogee," even though merle haggard probably never meant it the way it was being taken. another element we see emerging culturally in the south is that evangelical element that will become so important, and we will talk more about this in our next lecture. the moral majority, jerry falwell out of virginia, christian coalition associated with pat roberson, televangelists like tammy and jim baker. what is distinct here is the
politicization of evangelicals. when we talked about populism, we talked about religion, and the elements of religion that found their way in to populist thought. similarly, that theme has gone to everything we talked about. it begins to emerge in the 1970's as a political element, truly to be considered. i will move through this fairly quickly to wrap it up. jimmy carter has difficulties. as an engineer, he is really good at technical problems, but in some ways he is a micromanager. he runs as an outsider against the washington establishment only to find out he does not have the network and connections among democrats and republican -- democrats in congress to see policy through, and many people
don't feel he has a coherent policy on most of the issues confronting the united states. by the latter stages of his presidency, especially in foreign affairs, carter is dealing with the knot of an iranian revolution in which u.s. hostages are held from 1979-1981, and he seems impotent to do anything about it. it weighed heavily on him. arguably a well meaning man, a talented man, who made his best decisions on moral questions, was able to bring together israelis and egyptians and the camp david accords, but floundered in the minutia and detail of policy and the ways of washington. 1980, carter loses the presidency after one term.
it is notable to think that in some ways this notion of the new, new south was always a bit of an illusion, because even in the midst of the sun belt, appalachia, mississippi delta, and elsewhere, there continued to be pockets of poverty. instead, people look to the glistening towers of houston, atlanta, and charlotte. but in 1980, we see the emergence of another sun belt figure from california, former actor ronald reagan. we will talk more about him. during the campaign, he gives a speech in mississippi at the fair, and this quote is from this. "i still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people" -- a very conservative position -- "i believe in
states' rights. i believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level, and i believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment." successways, carter's paved the way for ronald reagan. reagan and the republicans going back to nixon at the beginning of the decade had taken up sort of the new language of conservatism, and it had a very broad appeal, as wallace himself had shown as early as 1964, nationally, and as carter had shown in 1976. so, that is sort of our review of the 1970's. any questions? all right, thank you all for coming. i will see you all wednesday.
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> join us every saturday at 8:00 and midnight eastern as we hear lectures on topics ranging from the american revolution to 911. website or download our podcast from itunes. this week on real america, columbia revolts, a film capturing the campus takeover by university students protesting the vietnam war in the school's plan to build a gym on a public park. here's a preview. on april 23, we will hold a demonstration to demand a protest against racism in
building a gym in waterside park and its attempted suppression. about 500 people joined us. we were approached by about 200. we found not only were they blocking our way, but the library was locked by the administration. thatmust have thought would stop us but it did not. we busted into the gym. the pigs called in reinforcements. >> [indiscernible]
>> watch the entire film sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern, here on american history tv. monday morning, we are live in st. paul, minnesota for the next stop on the c-span 50 capitals tour. minnesota education commissioner will be our guest. starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern. announcer: next, from the historical society of pennsylvania, a discussion on philadelphia's influence on music in 1968. panelists talk about the opening of the electric factory, a
concert venue that introduced rock 'n roll to the city, bringing in artists such as bob dylan and jimi hendrix. it is about one hour and 10 minutes. jason: ok, well, hello again. i want to take a brief minute to introduce each panelist. there are bios in the program, so if you want a full bio of each of our speakers, look in the about the speaker section of the program. i have the real privilege first magid, to introduce larry a local philadelphia legend, as well as a national music legend. larry reminded me over email that he is not retired and is still the owner, operator, for the electric factory in