By Alexander S. Leidholdt

An established columnist for the Raleigh information and Observer, Cornelia conflict Lewis earned a countrywide recognition within the Twenties and Thirties for her brave advocacy on behalf of women's rights, African american citizens, young children, and hard work unions. overdue in her lifestyles, besides the fact that, after scuffling with psychological affliction, Lewis reversed a lot of her stances and railed opposed to the liberalism she had spent her lifestyles advancing. In struggling with Nell, Alexander S. Leidholdt tells the compelling and eventually tragic lifestyles tale of this groundbreaking journalist opposed to the backdrop of the turbulent post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South and speculates in regards to the reason behind her awesome transformation. The daughter of North Carolina's so much widespread public wellbeing and fitness reliable, Lewis grew up in Raleigh, yet her reviews at Smith collage in Massachusetts, and later in France in the course of global conflict I, led her to question the existing racial attitudes and gender roles of her local quarter. In 1920, Lewis all started her storied occupation with the scoop and Observer. encouraged via H. L. Mencken's scathing feedback of the South, she quickly tested herself because the region's best lady liberal journalist. Her column, "Incidentally," attacked the Ku Klux Klan, lobbied opposed to the exploitation of mill employees, defended strikers through the infamous communist-organized Gastonia hard work violence, mocked non secular fundamentalists who fought the instructing of evolution, and decried lynch legislation. A suffragist and a feminist who observed women's rights as inextricably associated with human rights, Lewis ran for kingdom legislature in 1928 and used to be one of many first girls in North Carolina to be admitted to the bar. within the Nineteen Thirties, despite the fact that, Lewis confronted repeated institutionalizations for a debilitating bout of psychological ailment and sought remedy from Christian technological know-how practitioners, spiritualists, and psychotherapists. As she elderly, her perspectives grew more and more reactionary, and he or she insisted that she had served as a communist dupe throughout the Gastonia strike and trials, that communists had infiltrated the collage of North Carolina, and that a lot of her former innovative allies had ties to communism. eventually, lots of her reviews thoroughly reversed, and within the wake of the 1954 Brown v. Board choice, she served as an influential spokesperson for the South's gigantic resistance to public institution desegregation. She persevered to espouse those conservative ideals till her demise in 1956. In his certain retelling of Lewis's interesting lifestyles, Leidholdt chronicles the turbulent background of North Carolina from the Nineteen Twenties throughout the Nineteen Fifties, as industrialization and racial integration started to tear on the region's conservative cloth. He vividly explains the history and ramifications of Lewis's many debatable stances and explores the potential purposes for her ideological about-face. in the course of the impressive tale of "Battling Nell," Leidholdt unearths how the advanced problems with gender, hard work, and race intertwined to persuade the convulsive occasions that formed the process early twentieth-century southern historical past.

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Extra info for Battling Nell: The Life of Southern Journalist Corneila Battle Lewis, 1893–1956 (Southern Biography Series)

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NBL transcript, Smith College; Smith College Class Book (Buffalo: Hausauer-Jones, 1917), 17– 83, 93; N&O, 16 March 1924. 26. N&O, 16 March 1924; Lottie Woolen, telephone interview by author, 8 May 1992. battling nell 32 of thinking about racial issues, sometimes in an overt fashion. Black students had begun attending Smith around 1900, and Nell likely came in contact with them. One southern alumna, who graduated a few years after Nell and later played a role in reopening desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, credited the college with broadening her racial views: “At Smith there was no one else from this part of the country and for the first time I knew New Englanders and northerners and a few far westerners.

38. Smith College Weekly, 18 February 1914, 16 February 1916. 39. Smith College Weekly, 4 November 1914. battling nell 36 Come into the Reading Room—any time will do— If you don’t know how to knit, we will teach you to. 40 Gray mufflers replaced the colorful sweaters the students previously had knit, and the residence houses reduced the extravagance of their receptions to purchase supplies for Belgian refugees. The committee’s chair would soon announce shipment of 718 bandages, 176 bundles of absorbent pads, 760 towels, 20 dozen sheets, 109 pillow cases, 3 night shirts, 10 flannel petticoats, 1 abdominal band, 2 pairs of wristlets, and 97 mufflers to New York for transport overseas.

The eloquence of the event’s speakers and the bravery displayed by the protestors in confronting hooliganism and bigotry impressed many people across the nation, recalled Lilian Welsh, the college physician and a prominent faculty member. Undoubtedly, the protest influenced Goucher’s students—even those who did not march—mightily. The widespread support for suffrage on campus may have had the greatest impact on the smattering of students from homes south of the border state by inculcating in them beliefs that ran counter to the mores of their region.

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