This post contains highlights of material from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions. For more on this digitization project, click here.
In 1937, the Conference on Education and Race Relations in Atlanta, Georgia, produced a study on “Population Problems in the South.” Referring to the South’s current state of racial discord and inequality, the publication of the study’s findings quotes Thomas Nelson Page, a noted Southern writer, who said that “In dealing with this question in the past, nearly every mistake that could possibly be made has been made.” From the immorality of the practice of slavery, to the tragedy surrounding the Civil War, to a flawed period of Reconstruction, to the lack of social justice education in schools, the problems and mistakes in the history our Southern society have been far from few.
The study looks at population statistics, standard of living inconsistencies, wages, health issues, and public schools, among other topics, in a thorough examination of the current inequalities between blacks and whites in the South. Taking all of this information into consideration, the study identifies two overarching civic problems: “(1) That of doing justice to a minority group, and (2) that of serving the best interests of all.” The writers go on to propose the difficulty of approaching these problems: “the American people would like to do both, of course. Is it possible to do both at the same time, or must we sacrifice one to accomplish the other?”
The data and reflections reported in the study findings constitute an interesting resource and a fascinating glimpse of 1930s perceptions of race relations. The “Population Problems in the South” publication is part of the Guy Benton Johnson collection and has been digitized through the CCC grant. See the entire document here.