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A White Liberal College President in the Jim Crow South: Guy Herbert Wells and the YWCA at Georgia State College for Women, 1934-1953

By author: Sandra E. GodwinWith: Helen Matthews Lewis
Product Code: HH1006
ISBN: 9780881467901
Availability: In stock
Price: $35.00

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A WHITE LIBERAL COLLEGE PRESIDENT IN THE JIM CROW SOUTH is a historical narrative that explores the inner turmoil of a college president who positioned himself between two opposing political ideologies. The Young Women's Christian Association represented one side and governors, state board members, judges, and other powerful anti-black groups represented the other. Guy Herbert Wells, president of Georgia State College for (white) Women, learned to manage the tension between holding true to his own values, which more closely resembled those of students in the YWCA, while working for a state system that upheld white supremacy. A 1935 YWCA interracial event became the catalyst for his first lesson on how to manage this tension. Most studies of higher education during the Civil Rights era focus on students of the 1960s. In contrast, this study features a president of the 1930s and 40s. Using archival data from Georgia College (formerly Georgia State College for Women) and the YWCA, Godwin tracks Wells's positioning and identifies the motivation of his political movements right and left. The activism of YWCA members and the efforts to silence them all influenced Wells's maneuvering. Godwin argues that his emotional unrest was a consequence of a "dual tradition of dissent" among white liberal administrators in higher education during the Jim Crow era. Godwin concludes with a comparison of Wells's experience with Georgia College President Dorothy Leland's (2004 to 2011) who faced similar challenges. Godwin examines the costs associated with playing the middle and asserts that Wells's moderate leadership ultimately strengthened Georgia College's white supremacist foundation.
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