“It’s Not My History:” The White Counter-Narrative of Selma, Alabama, 1965-2015
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Almost immediately after the dust had settled behind the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March, forces within Selma began competing for control of the march’s historical legacy. After the successful passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights narrative of Selma, championed by national media and historians, became the national narrative. The reactionary segregationist counter-narrative advocated by white segregationists, challenged this Civil Rights narrative. This thesis is a local study that examines how the white counter-narrative developed in Selma, Alabama, in the five decades (1965-2015) that followed the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, is a place with a long history shaped by white supremacy and African American resistance. I examine how the white counter narrative formed and evolved due to the influence of municipal, state, and national politics. This thesis asserts that many Selma residents and many round the country, have rejected the Civil Rights narrative of what happened in Selma because of the white counter narrative’s effective use of a racially coded language.