Another part of growing up in 60s and 70s in the South, and not just Arkansas, was the poor schools, the lack of healthcare, and any other kind of social support. Poor whites and poor blacks made for a natural partners in seeking social improvement. I don't know the numbers but together they could have made for a force to be reckoned with. The explanation as heard it is that poor whites were told by the powers that be that social issues were n***** issues. Of course, no one wanted to be n***** lover, so no coalition and no social support services. I don't know if this is true, but it fits the mentality of an awful lot of people. A man could be impoverished, illiterate, toothless, half-blind from cataracts but at least he was white. Racism hasn't just hurt African-Americans. It is poison and harms whoever it touches. Just so there's no confusion, I most definitely am not asserting that poor whites had it worse or know (better) than "African Americans" the effects of racism. Racism is primarily a tool of economic exploitation. It has been used in different ways on different populations.
Here is what life in the rural south is like:
I readily admit that it is an exaggeration, but not by much. More often now, a man can be impoverished, illiterate, toothless, half-blind from cataracts but at least he has Jesus. Poverty, illiteracy, hookworm, domestic abuse, poor health care are also part of Southern Heritage. I hadn't realized the extent to which I hold the rural South in low regard. I am fond of my immediate family and the area where I grew up, but I have lived "up North" for most of the last 30 years. I can afford the luxury of nostalgia only until it makes for stupidity and blindness. The South has changed. There has been an influx of immigrants and migrants from other parts of the country but mostly to the cities. I suspect that rural life hasn't changed nearly as much.