The South has continued to change. The Klan and Citizens’ Councils were on the wane, were less relevant as the society seemed increasingly in a state of flux from the effect of new and contradictory forces at work on it. All the Southern impulses to irrationality were summoned by the state of flux, and, appropriate to the age, often found expression in the absurd. There were scenes, for example, like that at the end-of-the-year “patriotic” program at a fashionable public school in Atlanta where the son and daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the daughter of his chief stalwart, Ralph Abernathy, were enrolled. Their dark faces shining out in the closeness of choral grouping among a sea of little white ones, the children were happily singing what the music teacher had introduced as a favorite song of Abraham Lincoln’s: “Dixie.” The Reverend Mr. Abernathy, shaking his head and grinning, remarked: “Well if it was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, it ought to be good enough for us.” Clearly, we might wander at length in a wryly laughing world of such anecdotage on the Southern anthem alone (the football game crowd in Florida standing as the band plays it, a “liberal” whi...
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