“Scientific Certainty”: Wesley Critz George, Racial Science and Organised White Resistance in North Carolina, 1954–1962
|GEORGE LEWIS a1|
a1 School of Historical Studies at the University of Leicester, UK.
In November 1954, Eugene “Gene” Hood, a former executive of North Carolina's Cone Mills, wrote an unsolicited letter to Wesley Critz George, Emeritus Professor of Histology and Embryology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Hood was writing in his capacity as de
facto leader of an enclave of hard-line segregationists, based in North Carolina's Piedmont region. Six months had passed since the Supreme Court's Brown decision had effectively rendered segregation unconstitutional, and Hood and his colleagues were becoming increasingly agitated by the lack of an organised, coherent response to the Court's edict in the Tar Heel State. The Piedmont segregationists, a disparate group of lawyers and businessmen, refused to be cast as pariahs in the wake of Brown. Rather, they believed that a sizeable majority of white North Carolinians shared their views on the continued segregation of the races, and, moreover, that a significant number of them would be willing to join a crusade for all-out resistance to federally mandated desegregation. The group's overarching problem was one of trying to devise a strategy that would harness that pro-segregation opinion for maximum effect. On 22 November, after another round of discussions between the group members provided no satisfactory answers, Hood decided that it was time to seek an external stimulus. “I am convinced that we need a state-wide organization,” he wrote to George, “and I am wondering if you and your associates would consider doing something along that line.”
(Published Online August 5 2004)