All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Christopher Minnix

Advisory Committee Members

Margaret Jay Jessee

Bruce M McComiskey

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2020

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This thesis addresses parallels between the rhetoric of contemporary secessionists and the arguments surrounding the rise and fall of Jim Crow laws which maintained segregation for decades. Cities like Gardendale, Alabama and Baton Rouge, Louisiana make uncanny arguments in their attempts to break-away from county school systems, promoting new and improved propaganda, alluding to “separate but equal” in their attempts to separate for the good of their communities. Despite years of multicultural instruction, schools are fighting the same battle, on the same turf, generations later—some cities surrounding Birmingham and across the country add a new twist on the same white flight that encouraged both de jure and de facto segregation. Breaking away from city school districts under the guise of seeking a better education for their children, this newer version of parent-led white flight is disconcertingly similar to old attempts to keep dual school systems. Like the public-school secessionists who flee from diverse school systems, some homeschoolers flee globalism and multiculturalism—promoting nationalism in the name of patriotism. Framing the rhetoric of religious fundamentalism and how it often reinforces white nationalism and supports the al-right movement provides a way to understand both the means and the motive. Looking at the complex rhetorical situation encompassed within both public and private arenas affords a greater understanding as to how systemic racism continues to impact genuine integration. By iv examining the rhetoric of recent break-away attempts and their relationship to arguments surrounding historical segregation and on-going issues with integration, I hope to provide insight into the nature of recent attempts at secession and perhaps offer a pathway toward a solution.

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