Review: Dividing Lines (Montgomery)

In Dividing Lines, J. Mills Thornton III explains the creation of Black Run America in Alabama


While I was out of town this weekend, I picked up J. Mills Thornton III’s Dividing Lines: Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma.

This massive book attempts to explain the integration of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma – effectively, the rise of Black Run America in Alabama – and why these cities produced major flashpoints of racial conflict whereas other cities like Mobile, Dothan, and Columbus did not.

Thornton spends a lot of time analyzing the Civil Rights Movement in terms of direct action campaigns like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the impact of black agitation on municipal politics in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma.

He concludes that municipal politics played a decisive role in the integration of these cities. Municipal politics explains why Birmingham galvanized the Civil Rights Movement whereas Albany was a defeat and a major setback.

So far, I have only read the Montgomery section, but I can now pretty much explain what happened in that city. I have a much better grasp on why segregationists lost in Montgomery than I did before. This has given me some insights into how the racial status quo in Alabama might be conceivably reversed.


Before the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, Montgomery was a quiet Southern city with a quiescent black minority and a moderate White majority that was committed to perfecting segregation by creating better autonomous racial institutions for African-Americans.

No one living in Montgomery in the 1940s, White or African-American, could have predicted the racial struggles of the 1960s or the subsequent racial polarization that would be unleashed there by the actions of the federal government.

The blacks themselves couldn’t even imagine the imminent downfall of the Jim Crow system. In fact, they did not even set out with the intention to overthrow segregation in Montgomery, but instead their purpose was simply to reform segregation by adopting the Mobile seating arrangement on city buses.

The Civil Rights Movement blew through Montgomery like a hurricane. It struck out of the blue and devastated fifty years of tradition in less than ten years.

The key insight here is that African-Americans in Montgomery could not imagine the demise of the Jim Crow system. Like the creation of a White ethnostate, the creation of Black Run America was so far outside of their experience that ordinary black people dismissed it as a utopian fantasy.

No one in Montgomery was really working toward that goal.

The Sleepy City: Refuting Racial Stereotypes

Montgomery was never the segregationist hell on earth of the DWL imagination. Instead, it was a city that was controlled by White moderates and which was really trying to live up to the “separate but equal” doctrine of autonomous racial development.

By 1955, African-Americans in Montgomery had their own public university, Alabama State University. They had their own churches just like Whites in Montgomery. The establishment of higher education and independent churches for blacks in Montgomery dates back to the Reconstruction period.

By the 1940s, Whites had torn down all the “shack schools” and built modern high schools for Whites and African-Americans alike, a recent development for both races in Alabama. Black children rode city buses to these high schools which were staffed by black teachers who were increasingly college graduates.

In 1951, a black hospital was built in Montgomery that was staffed by black doctors and black surgeons. In 1937, the first two public housing projects were built in Montgomery, one for African-Americans and the other for Whites.

By the 1950s, there were five public housing projects in Montgomery, and four of them were reserved for blacks. In 1947, Montgomery opened up a black farmer’s market. In 1948, a black branch of the YMCA and a black branch of the Montgomery public library were opened to serve African-Americans.

In 1951, Montgomery opened its first black hotel. In 1953, Montgomery’s first black radio station began broadcasting. By the 1950s, black newspapers and black magazines had been serving the black middle class for decades.

Blacks in Montgomery were small business owners. There were black lawyers practicing in the state. In Montgomery, there were black parks that had been set aside exclusively for the enjoyment of African-Americans.

The NAACP had a Montgomery branch. Blacks had created the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) to advance their interests and to bargain with White leaders. No one in Montgomery was denying blacks a healthy and positive sense of racial identity.

In Montgomery, the Gunter Machine had clashed with and defeated the Klan in the 1920s. As we have shown, Montgomery was controlled by White moderates who were committed to industrial development and the social and economic uplift of both races, rather than just one.

In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the White primary. In the years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, African-Americans had actually been registering to vote and their share of the electorate had risen to 7 percent. They were 37 percent of the population at that time.

When the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in December 1955, Montgomery had just hired black police officers and allowed blacks to join Montgomery’s professional baseball team, the Montgomery Rebels.

Life was getting better for both races.

Lack of Opportunity

African-Americans had their own public and private institutions in Montgomery. Those institutions were never the quality of their White counterparts, but that was entirely due to racial differences, not to black people suffering from any lack of opportunity in our society.

Black people are not as intelligent, educated, or creative as Whites. They do not behave like Whites whether it comes to saving money, committing suicide, graduating from high school, or committing violent crimes like homicide and robbery.

Left to their own devices, African-Americans will always create a poorer society with a smaller tax base, regardless of whether George W. Bush or Barack Hussein Obama sits in the White House.

Their households will always be worth less on average than their White counterparts. They will always be less able to afford and maintain public services that most White people take for granted in America.

After fifty years of Black Run America, black institutions still do not perform at the White level, whether they are HBCUs or majority black high schools, and blacks don’t fare much better when they are given access to White institutions.

If Jim Crow America failed African-Americans on the grounds that it was “unequal,” then so has Black Run America which remains “unequal” to this day, in spite of the fifty year crusade by DWLs to legislate equality where it doesn’t and can never exist.

Black Run America has only succeeded in ameliorating racial inequality by discriminating against Whites and robbing White Americans to redistribute their wealth to non-White minorities.

This hasn’t solved the problem. It has only created a dangerous sense of dependency and entitlement in the African-American community that is sure to crash on the shoals of reality at some future point.

Before demonizing White Montgomery for its desire to preserve its own separate institutions and enjoy the fruits of their own labor, DWLs should remember that African-Americans are still to this day no more equal in Vermont or Massachusetts than they are in Alabama.

There is no secret formula anywhere in the world that solves what is ultimately an intractable biological problem.

Downfall: The End of Segregation in Montgomery

Why did integration triumph in Montgomery? Why were the segregationists unable to preserve our Southern way of life? Who is responsible for the creation of Black Run America in Alabama?

Here’s a Top 10 list of factors which are sufficient to explain this result:

(1) The Federal Government – Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, desegregation in Montgomery and other Alabama cities had been erratic, with some institutions having been integrated by political pressure whereas others had been allowed to remain segregated.

We can definitively say that it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which destroyed Jim Crow in Montgomery. In a matter of weeks, there was sweeping integration across all types of public accommodations from restaurants to hotels, and segregation had suffered a complete collapse by the end of that year.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 did for African-American voter registration what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had done for the civil rights agitators trying to integrate private businesses with their direct action campaigns. It handcuffed local officials and put the federal government in charge of state and local elections.

Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was federal agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission which struck the first real blow against the Jim Crow system.

A sectional coalition of Northern Democrats and Northern Republicans put an end to Jim Crow in the American South. If we are looking to assign blame, the federal government easily gets the lion’s share of it, as this result was bitterly opposed in the South, desired mostly by outside sources, and was only supported by a small minority of treacherous Whites living in the region.

It was the Eisenhower administration that forced integration onto Central High School in Little Rock. It was the Kennedy administration that forced Ole Miss and the University of Alabama to integrate.

Any number of major schools districts in the South were forced to integrate in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. It was the federal government through the implicit and explicit use of military force that put an end to segregation in Alabama and other Southern states.

(2) Federal Judges – Second only in importance to the legislative and executive branches and federal government and its threat to use military force, NAACP lawsuits and federal judges were the second most important factor in putting an end to segregation in Montgomery.

It was the Supreme Court that abolished the white primary, which forced integration onto the public schools, which chipped away and struck down one aspect of segregation after another from graduate schools to interstate transportation to public transportation and finally to hotels and restaurants.

Federal judges created the Civil Rights Movement.

When the Freedom Riders came to Alabama, they were only testing out their new rights which had been recently granted to them by the Supreme Court.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a failure. It was Judge Frank Johnson and later the Supreme Court which forced the racial integration of public buses in Montgomery.

Frank Johnson, the Federal District Judge over Central Alabama, issued one liberal ruling after another that turned black defeats into black victories.

It was Frank Johnson and the Supreme Court who eviscerated segregation and who created the impression in the black community that Jim Crow was vulnerable, that they had the momentum, and that the sky was the limit.

(3) The Black Community – The third most important factor was the black community which always resented segregation and was large and organized enough to challenge Jim Crow in the right historical conditions.

The black community could have never overthrown Jim Crow in Montgomery by itself. There wasn’t even much of a desire to overthrow segregation by local blacks. The downfall of segregation seemed too utopian of a result to even seriously consider.

It was the federal government and the federal judges who effectively said to local black leaders like Martin Luther King: all you have to do is push, and we will support you, whether it be with federal court orders and federal civil rights legislation, or with 101st Airborne Division.

The African-Americans who lived in the 20s and 30s weren’t any less capable than the blacks who lived in the 50s and 60s. They just didn’t have Northern allies willing to go to bat for them on the Supreme Court or in the White House.

The real difference was that Martin Luther King’s generation was living in the aftermath of the Second World War against Hitler’s Germany. The U.S. federal government was fighting the Cold War with the Soviet Union where the defeat of communism abroad and the global maintenance of America leadership in the “free world” took precedence over domestic institutions like segregation.

African-Americans in Montgomery launched a boycott that failed, but which resulted in a favorable court ruling, thanks to Judge Frank Johnson. Then the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery stagnated and segregationists gained the upper hand. They succeeded in driving Martin Luther King back to Atlanta a few years later.

(4) and (5) The Hostile Media/Outside Agitators – The hostile media played an absolutely central role in the creation of Black Run America by portraying segregationists as demonic racist bigots standing in the way of progress and who were trying to preserve an archaic racial feudal system.

It was the hostile media that created sympathetic portraits of black civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, which systematically covered up the truth about the “Civil Rights Movement” through its monopoly on the distribution of information, and which broadcasted carefully selected images of segregationist violence into every Northern household in order to manipulate White racial attitudes in the Northern states.

It was the hostile media which gave Montgomery a “negative reputation” and which created the impression that “law and order” didn’t prevail there and which portrayed White Southerners as ignorant and backwards and less civilized than their Northern counterparts.

The hostile media used the beating of the Freedom Riders, the quintessential “outside agitators,” to great effect in their propaganda against segregationists in Montgomery. It was that incident in 1961 which marked the real turning point and the shifting of momentum away from the segregationist camp and to the “civil rights” agitators.

(6) The Business Community – The Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, which Thornton calls “the business progressives,” was the fifth column within the White community and played the decisive role in engineering the final surrender to the “Civil Rights Movement” in Montgomery.

The “business progressives” wanted to attract Northern industry to Montgomery above all else. Its local mouthpiece at the time was The Montgomery Advertiser which oscillated between support and opposition toward massive resistance to integration.

The disruptions to “law and order” caused by the local civil rights agitators led by Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy, the outside agitators like the Freedom Riders, and the negative image of Montgomery that the hostile media and the federal courts were creating is what finally caused the “business progressives” to throw in the towel and strike a deal with the African-American community.

The business community wanted quiet, orderly commerce and industrial development, and if segregation was getting in the way of Hyundai coming to Montgomery then, by golly, segregation had to go.

As in our society, the White business community exists in a dominant/subordinate relationship with the White working class, and when the local business community turned against segregation, it effectively marked the end of the White struggle to preserve Jim Crow.

(7) Segregationist Resignation – Another one of the biggest factors in the demise of segregation in Montgomery and other Southern cities was that the segregationists, also known as the White majority in Montgomery, lost confidence in their ability to win the struggle and prematurely resigned themselves to defeat.

The segregationists lost heart after the business elite sided with African-Americans and demanded the end of segregation and compliance with federal court orders and federal legislation in the name of “law and order.”

Instead of attacking the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce with a White boycott, the segregationists gave up and went home, or started voting for Barry Goldwater.

(8) and (9) Mainstreamers vs. Vanguardists – The conflict between “mainstreamers” and “vanguardists” goes all the way back to the integration of Montgomery.

In Montgomery, this took the form of the White Citizens’ Council, which ballooned in those years to become the largest White organization in Montgomery County, and the Klan, which was similarly reinvigorated and which drew its support from the White working class.

The “vanguardist” element wasn’t willing to idly stand by and allow the integration of Montgomery to take place without a fight. Then as now, the “vanguardists” were itching for a fight and attracted all the hotheads in the pro-White community.

Several Klansmen bombed Martin Luther King’s home. They bombed churches in Montgomery and Edgar Nixon’s home. These bombings helped reinforce Martin Luther King’s carefully manufactured media image as an apostle of Gandhian non-violence.

It turned the “business progressives” against segregation because they were in favor of “law and order” and attracting Northern industry. The use of violence by Whites was used by the hostile media to put a halo over Saint Martin Luther King’s head.

Above all else, it was the beating of the Freedom Riders (which was caused by Klan infiltration of the Montgomery Police Department) that turned the “business progressives” against segregation and which galvanized renewed sympathy for the Civil Rights Movement in the Northern states.

That was the decisive blow to segregation that shifted the momentum toward integration in Montgomery County. It brought all the so-called “moderate” rats out of hiding who had been silenced by the threat of social ostracism a few years before.

In the years between the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and the Freedom Riders arrival in 1961, the Citizens’ Council had succeeded in driving both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy out of Montgomery and back to Atlanta through the skillful use of social and economic pressure on the black community behind the scenes.

Until 1961, the Civil Rights Movement seemed to be a failure in Montgomery, but that was lost in one single gross counterproductive orgy of violence.

In Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement HAD LOST a major battle because Whites did not resort to violence in that city.

(10) White Moderates – The least important factor in the triumph of integration in Montgomery was White public opinion.

There was a small, but active minority of White progressives in Montgomery at the time represented by the likes of the Durrs and the Graetzs, but the DWLs of Montgomery had been driven from the public sphere in the wake of the segregationist backlash to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The DWLs resurfaced after the Freedom Riders were beaten at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery in 1961. They joined forces with the “business progressives” who reached a modus vivendi with the African-American community in the early 1960s.

DWLs, African-Americans, and “business progressives” went on to create the dystopian abomination that is Black Run Montgomery in the decades that followed. As in Birmingham, Whites eventually become a racial minority and fled to neighborhing suburbs to rebuild their civilization.


This has been the story of the creation of Black Run America in Montgomery.

Looking back on those years, we can see the mistakes that were made and imagine how things might have turned out differently in Alabama.

It is immediately obvious that White Southerners didn’t fully grasp the effect that mass communication technology and the Second World War had been having on their peers in the Northern states who lived in more racially homogeneous areas.

We did not fully appreciate the threat posed by the “business progressives,” the relationship between the Cold War and the “Civil Rights Movement,” or the significance of our fading political power in the Democratic Party.

The destruction of Black Run America in Montgomery and other Southern cities will require the creation of autonomous pro-White media and organizations through which we can reach and connect with the White majority and channel their racial resentments against the present racial spoils system which disadvantages us.

We will need a strategy for dealing with the White business community, another strategy for neutralizing the threat of Northern opposition, and yet another strategy still to discredit the present system by attacking and undermining its legitimacy in the eyes of a White mass audience.

Before getting any further ahead of ourselves, we need to take a look at what happened in Birmingham and Selma, and carefully consider and analyze what happened to those cities.

Note: For those who haven’t yet seen it, you can watch the new BRA “Freedom Riders” hagiography below. It is easier to download and watch on YouTube. Someone has done us a service by uploading it.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. White business community
    Didn’t Alinsky elegantly pressure business conservatives into defeat? His methodology was a win.

    Northern opposition
    Where do they stand today in contrast with 50 years ago on similar issues? I’ve met several displaced Yankees not to mention incoming expats from Europe who more or less know the score.

    The mainstreamers need to be more coherently networked into a massive, resilient memetic organism and generally on the same page on all points. The explicit vanguardist content could be sanitized a little better in some places.

  2. ” The hostile media played an absolutely central role in the creation of Black Run America by portraying segregationists as demonic racist bigots standing in the way of progress and who were trying to preserve an archaic racial feudal system.”

    This had a big effect outside America also which would have fed back into your reason number (1).

  3. Old White Jim: When I go to graveyards, I take time to walk around and read the headstones after paying my respects to my kin. Something that always comes to mind is how people might have felt about the future of our country on their last day. To have died in the spring of 1942, knowing that the Japanese were kicking us all over the Pacific, and never hearing the news about Midway, for example. Or dying during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, wondering if your country would survive you. You say the Blacks are about to get their dicks caught in the wringer. I’d like to think so, but when? Some posters write about a big turnaround by 2020, or even 2035. That’s too much to bear.
    What do I want? Cataclysm! When do I want it? Before I’m too worn out to lend a hand!

  4. Something is coming, one way or the other. It’s interesting to think of all these issues with respect to The Fourth Turning, a book about generational cycles. I think a synopsis of the book, called Winter is Coming, is available for download. I strongly recommend it. Generational cycles are a potent lens through which to view socio-political movements. Winter is coming indeed. If for no other reason than because we don’t have the money to throw down the crapper anymore. But also because of The Fourth Turning. Some days I want it, some days I don’t. But it’s big, it’s bad and it’s ugly. And it’s coming our way.

  5. “Northern opposition
    Where do they stand today in contrast with 50 years ago on similar issues? I’ve met several displaced Yankees not to mention incoming expats from Europe who more or less know the score.”

    Pretty much the same as they always have … if you choose to continue assuming all Northerners hold the same view as the Northern Elite. Working class White Northerners loathe people of color. They make Jim Crow southerners look like fucking libtards by comparison.

    Most Northerners were conned into fighting The War Between The States, because the abolitionists conned them into thinking all the Negro slaves would be repatriated back to Africa. The assumption would be all those poor White European peasants immigrating to NYC would take their place in Southern fields. Little did they know that the abolitionists had already established a cottage industry serving their little black pets and were loath to let them go.

    Northern cities had industrial areas that were dissected by train tracks and one either lived on the “right” side of the tracks or the “wrong” side of the tracks. My mother was one of those Whites who lived on the “wrong” side of the tracks, like other poor European immigrant families. She said the richest family in the neighborhood was black, because they had only one child and both ran their own businesses (since he was shut out of the unions). But once an immigrant family got the wherewithal to cross the track, then they would settle into an immigrant enclaves. It was the Northern WASP elite politicians who signed off on fair housing legislation and then forced “block busting” became the order of the day which generated White flight. It was believed this was done by WASPs so the immigrants would not do as the Mestizos do now and run their own for office once they reach any appreciable demographics.

    The modus operandi of the Northern elite is that they are on board with the government’s “fair” housing ordinances to build low-income domiciles, but they like to make sure that it is built in working class White neighborhoods. In certain areas of the North, there are neighborhoods you have no hope of living in unless you make over 100K a year. Decent housing is very expensive up there. People pay dearly to live Negro-free, but that doesn’t stop them from libtard expressions.

    How do Southern WNists contend with this? Make sure to agitate for the occupants of certain zip codes to practice what they preach. There was already a big brouhaha when Mein Obama’s administration forced low-income housing smack dab in the middle of an exclusive Rhode Island community; Westchester, I believe. I imagine that is why he is on everybody’s shit list as he would not have been if he just went along with status quo, which involves inflicting people of color on the working and middle class White poor.

  6. “Working class Northerners loathe people of color. They make Jim Crow southerners look like fucking libtards by comparison.”

    Heh heh. As a working class Northerner, you’ll have no argument from me.

  7. I have never believed that Northerners all share the same point of view on race.

    My Northern readers would be quite proud if you heard the way I stand up for you at SCV meetings. The people who “get race” in America are overwhelmingly White Southerners, but also Northerners who live in or around major cities like Detroit and Chicago, and who have just as much regular face to face contact with diversity as we do.

    There is nothing special about White Southerners. We just have more experience with diversity than other Americans because of our proximity to it.

    The most racially conscious White Americans live in the Deep South, the Northern metropoles, and in the Southwest where the Hispanics are displacing Whites.

    More people from California regularly visit this website than from any other state. It is not just because California is the biggest state either. The people who come here tend to be from Southern California.

    Many of the people who are visiting OD from other states are also displaced Californians.

  8. Chris, that is so true. When I was a kid in Alabama, a northern kid moved down south and started school in junior high. He got his ass kicked for saying the N word to some blacks. He said he didn’t realize he couldn’t say that since that is the way all whites talked in his school in of all places, Chicago.

    I was in my first year of school when forced integration finally made its way into rural Alabama. The thing I remember most is how nice the black schools were. Within a couple of years of the integration, my parents would drive my the black schools and point out all the broken windows and devastation the building subjected to by the blacks who now went to our schools.

  9. There is nothing special about White Southerners. We just have more experience with diversity than other Americans because of our proximity to it.

    Another example of nonsensical White egalitarianism.

  10. Discard: The problem, as I see it, is that everybody is waiting to get their marching orders from an emergent leader who is never going to come.

    If you are ready to start, then start. You don’t need to be part of a nationwide organization with with a bold, charismatic leader. Such leader would instantly have a target on his back and the organization would be infiltrated and destroyed.

    A lone warrior or a cell of 2 or 3 close, longtime friends cannot be infiltrated or easily detected.

    You don’t need a leader, an arm band or a banner. All you need is balls and the knowledge that Mother Earth knows how to keep a secret.

  11. It is true.

    White racial consciousness used to be pretty strong in New England, the Midwest, and the West until those areas became more homogeneous.

    Even within the South, racial attitudes are stronger or weaker in different areas, in places like North Alabama vs. South Alabama or East Tennessee vs. West Tennessee.

  12. Hunter Wallace writes:

    “There is nothing special about White Southerners. ”

    Jack Ryan responds.

    I disagree in one key area. Southern women are very special. 2 out of my 3 best girl friends were from the South (Tennessee and Texas). Any of you Southern good ol boys are perfectly free to date, marry, pro-create… SUFFER any of the no fun Northern big city women who work in law and banking up here in Chicago! This is another reason there are so many gay people in Northern cities like Chicago – men don’t feel any attraction to women like HILLARY, so they think they must be gay or something.


  13. The South does have the best women imo (tho there are wonderful exceptions I’m sure) if you exclude most of the city girls, they are as cantankerously lib as any northern gal except maybe on the issue of prolife, I don’t know anybody where I live who is pro-choice. Also the big town girls are about five times as likely to get into or support interracial relationships. Alot of city folk would need to be booted out of the south if the nation fell apart and an ethnostate were formed down here, i’m just sayin 😉

  14. It is a terrible intellectual difficulty to understand how some could spend their time spreading such uncouth foolishness. These are the rants of small minded pickerwoods unable to compete with the vast majority of the world, which is clearly not white. A new wind is rising, cling to your guns, your small mindedness, and please let the world continue to pass you by; it will be a much better place without you.

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