Archive for March, 2009

John Hope Franklin Remembered by Historian and Author Paul Gaston

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Brian Seidman

Noted historian and scholar John Hope Franklin died Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at the age of 94. He was the author of the bestselling book From Slavery to Freedom and known for his work on the Brown v. Board of Education court case.

Paul M. Gaston of the University of Virginia, author of The New South Creed and the forthcoming Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea (NewSouth, 2009) sent this remembrance:

I saw John Hope for the last time two years ago. I was in a large auditorium where he was to speak about his autobiography. He entered by a side door, spied me, walked to where I was standing and gave me one of those John Hope Franklin bear hugs with which I had been familiar for almost half a century. He stood tall as he strode toward me, shoulders back, smile broad. He was 92 at the time and I thought he must be immortal. 

The world knows John Hope through the multitude of his books, essays, and speeches that have shed powerful light on the hopes, failures, achievements, and complexities of our nation. The hundreds and more who have known him up close, as counselor and friend, are now bereft of one who was always there with praise and prodding, formed by his abiding care for who we were, what we needed, and how he might help.

John Hope Franklin recently contributed an introduction to Jim Crow and Me: Stories from My Life as a Civil Rights Lawyer by Solomon Seay, from NewSouth Books.

Read John Hope Franklin’s obituary from the Associated Press.

John Pritchard, Rheta Grimsley Johnson Nominated for Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Awards

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 by Andrew

The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters recently named NewSouth authors John Pritchard and Rheta Grimsley Johnson to a short list of nominees for their annual awards ceremonies. Previous winners included such celebrated novelists as Richard Ford and Shelby Foote.

John Pritchard, a college-level English teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, is nominated in the fiction category for his second novel The Yazoo Blues. The Yazoo Blues is the hilarious sequel to his critically acclaimed debut novella Junior Ray, both of which are set in Pritchard’s birthplace, the Mississippi Delta. Pritchard received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly, which awarded The Yazoo Blues a starred review, calling it “laugh out loud” and “insightful.”

Mississippi’s Rheta Grimsley Johnson is nominated in the non-fiction category for Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana, which is equal parts memoir and travelogue of her time spent in Southwest Louisiana’s Cajun Country. She has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist, writing about ordinary but fascinating people, mining for universal meaning in individual stories. Syndicated today by King Features of New York, Johnson’s column appears in fifty newspapers nationwide.

Since 1978, The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters annually recognizes the greatest accomplishments in art, music, literature, and photography among current Mississippi residents, or former ones with continued, significant ties to the state. Winners in each category receive a cash award of $1,000. Judges for the awards are chosen from out of state and are prominent in their respective fields.

This year’s MIAL awards gala marks the 30th anniversary of the foundation and will be held on June 13, in Laurel, Mississippi at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, accompanied by an art exhibition of previous winners from the pasty thirty years.

The Yazoo Blues and Poor Man’s Provence are available directly from NewSouth Books or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Bob Zellner Talks Wrong Side of Murder Creek, Non-Violence at Huntingdon College

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 by Andrew

NewSouth author and civil rights activist Bob Zellner recently visited Huntingdon College as a guest speaker for a special Presidential Colloquy in his honor in the office of Huntingdon president Cameron West. Zellner, a Huntingdon alum, delivered his lecture on Monday, March 9, where he discussed his role in the civil rights movement as well as his memoir, The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement.

NewSouth author and civil rights activist Bob Zellner with Huntingdon College president Cam West

In an intimate, educational setting, students, faculty, and guests from the surrounding community heard Zellner discuss how he grew from an Alabama Klan heritage to joined ranks with the black students who were sitting-in, marching, fighting, and sometimes dying to challenge the Southern “way of life” he’d been raised on but rejected. From his meetings and jail-time spent with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to his countless arrests for breaking Alabama’s segregation laws, Zellner painted a vivid portrait of an Alabama that is all too often lost on the modern generation’s youth.

During a question and answer portion of the colloquy, Zellner fielded questions ranging from his thoughts on feminism’s role in the civil rights movement, to comparing modern race relations to those during the civil rights movement. Additionally, Zellner briefly discussed the parallels between Barack Obama’s historic rise to the office of the President and the nonviolent struggle of those who paved the way for his success during the civil rights movement, citing the great power nonviolence inherently possesses as a vehicle for change.

Said Suellen Ofe, Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing at Huntingdon College, “The stories Bob shared were not only captivating, but also motivational. His humanitarian message was artfully and sincerely balanced between words of God’s grace and forceful commands to make the world a better place. The end result was vigorous discussion among students, faculty, and staff. We held onto him as long as we could–the questions, fervent and lively, just kept coming. In my opinion, it was the best colloquy we have ever had.”

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, Bob Zellner’s larger-than-life memoir in which he describes in greater detail the events discussed in his lecture, is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.