Southern History and Civil Rights in the News 8 January 2021

Scout Johnson's picture

Southern History and Civil Rights in the News

8 January 2021


In civil rights news, the Department of Justice is seeking to roll back several key provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The changes would result in a narrowed definition of discrimination by eliminating the “disparate impact” charge, meaning only those who can be proven to have intentionally engaged in discrimination would face charges. DOJ made the request on 21 December, but chose to forego the public comment period, so it is just now coming to light. Multiple outlets have covered the story from different angles including Forbes here, The Boston Globe here, and The New York Times here. In better news, according to a report by the Daily Press (Williamsport, VA), the state of Virginia is reorganizing its Division of Human Rights into an Office of Civil Rights, tripling the staff and increasing funding.


Southern history was in the news as well. The Washington Post highlighted the stark contrast of Terry Sanford, elected as North Carolina governor in 1960, with his southern peers in approaching civil rights. Richard Solomon wrote in Slate about the history of the peach in the New World, particularly how it came to be symbolic of the state of Georgia. Additionally, The Florida Times-Union reported on the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project, which has held several ceremonies memorializing the victims of lynching in the Duval County area.


Of course, the biggest story this week was the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol. Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt Public Policy Institute at Hunter College (NY), wrote in the New York Daily News about Wednesday’s actions in the context of how similar activity was prevented in the aftermath of the election of 1860, another era of bitter partisan divide.


Until next week, stay well,


Michele “Scout” Johnson

Editor, H-South


This series of weekly posts to H-South, “Southern History and Civil Rights in the News,” aims to track informed public discussions of southern history and civil rights. To recommend a reading, please email Dr. Michele Johnson at