In a letter to the TLS, Susan M. Fitzpatrick admits that she was wrong about Alabama: “Two decades ago I moved from my home city of New York, to a town in Alabama with the great trepidation a New Yorker faces when relocating to the deep South. Most of my friends sympathized with my feelings and expressed certainty that I would find rampant racism. Much to my chagrin, what I encountered instead was a level of interchange, of ‘commerce’ . . . unlike anything I had experienced ‘up North.’ The degree to which the lives of blacks and whites intertwined - in shops, restaurants, street fairs, parks, and even in meetings of local government and civic associations, defied my expectations. Neighbourhoods, while identifiable as black or white, were much less cleanly defined and the lines often blurred by socio-economic status. I do not mean to paint too rosy a picture of race relations, as events similar to the cautionary tale concluding Swaim’s commentary occurred, but I found everyday life in Alabama more integrated than anything I had experienced growing up in New York. There is a rich vein to be mined here about the whys, the wherefores, and how it might or might not matter.”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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