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Oral History Interview with Sidney S. McMath, September 8, 1990. Interview A-0352. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Sid McMath was the governor of Arkansas from 1949 to 1953. After returning from service in World War II, McMath became involved in Arkansas politics as a liberal Democrat, leading the "G.I. revolt," a movement made up of returning veterans who sought to challenge political corruption by the McLaughlin machine in Garland County, Arkansas. In 1948, McMath was elected governor of Arkansas. He describes how his primary goals were to allow African Americans into the Democratic Party, make higher education more accessible for African Americans, challenge the paternalistic control of the power companies over the state, and improve standards by building roads and supporting rural electrification. McMath was reelected in 1950, but lost his bid in 1952 to Francis Cherry. During these years, McMath was seen as one of the most liberal southern governors because of his strong advocacy of Truman's liberalism and civil rights measures in the face of the Dixiecrat revolt of 1948. McMath describes his thoughts on the Dixiecrats, including Strom Thurmond. Additionally, McMath discusses the importance of strong political leadership in effecting change. Arguing that the period between 1945 and 1948 was a missed opportunity for real change in the South, McMath believes that without eventual federal intervention, Jim Crow segregation would have persevered in the South for years to come.
    Excerpts
  • The G.I. Revolt in Garland County, Arkansas
  • The Dixiecrat Revolution and the Democratic Party's civil rights program in 1948
  • Missed opportunity to effect racial change in the post-war years
  • Federal intervention as a necessary measure for racial change
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Resources for Educators
  • Changes in Southern Politics Learning Object
  • Subjects
  • Arkansas--Politics and government
  • Arkansas--Race relations
  • School integration--Arkansas
  • Rural electrification--Arkansas
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.