Archive for March, 2011

60 Minutes discusses NewSouth’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Monday, March 21st, 2011 by Brian Seidman

The important conversation continues on the NewSouth edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. On last night’s episode of 60 Minutes, reporter Byron Pitts held a far-reaching conversation with NewSouth Books editor Randall Williams and University of Oregon professor David Bradley about the controversies surrounding Twain’s works, the use of racial epithets in today’s society, and NewSouth’s publication.

We respect Dr. Bradley’s belief that a full exploration of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn requires a discussion of the epithets; as Williams told Pitts, we encourage teachers who feel comfortable addressing the epithets to continue to teach original editions of Twain’s works. The NewSouth edition remains an alternative for teachers who want to use the books in their classrooms, but are unable to present them in their original form because of pressure from parents or administrators to exclude the books.

View the full interview with Randall Williams on the 60 Minutes website. You can also watch extra material, including Pitts and 60 Minutes editor Ann Silvio discussing 60 Minutes‘s decision to use racial epithets, and unaired segments from Pitts and Williams’s conversation (embedded below).

For more on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition, please read volume editor Dr. Alan Gribben’s introduction to the book. We also recommend the following articles:

“Trouble on the Raft: Defending an ‘Other’ Huck Finn,” Dr. Alan Gribben (editor of the NewSouth edition), Publishers Weekly

“Huck Finn controversy much ado about nothing,” Otis L. Sanford, Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Matt gets a Letter From the Professor,” Matt Appling, Church of the People blog

“Slave and Injun — In defense,” Today in Publishing

“How Dare You Censor the, Um, ‘N-Word,'” Mark Leiren-Young, The Tyee

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition is available in paperback and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Bob Zellner interviewed on Keith Beauchamp’s Injustice Files

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by Brian Seidman

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek by Bob ZellnerCivil rights activist Bob Zellner continues to advocate for equality and understanding even while balancing some newfound attention. Zellner has been interviewed for an Oprah show segment on the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides set to air May 4, and and pre-production activities continue on a feature film to be executive produced by Spike Lee based on Zellner’s award-winning memoir, published by NewSouth Books, called The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement.

Zellner also appeared on an episode of the Investigation Discovery channel’s Injustice Files, which focused on the unsolved murder of Congress of Racial Equality member William Lewis Moore. Moore, a white postal worker, conducted solo protest marches for civil rights in the 1960s; he was shot and killed in Alabama during one of those marches.

For perspective on the danger Moore faced as a white civil rights activist in the South, Injustice Files host Keith Beauchamp asked Zellner to describe his own experiences. At Zellner’s first protest, he told Beauchamp, pro-segregation activists beat him “very severely,” gouging his eye and threatening him with a hangman’s rope.

“What they didn’t understand,” Zellner said, “is we weren’t just fighting on the side of black people; we were fighting to liberate ourselves” from the racist ideology.

Zellner also recently spoke at the first of California State University’s 2011 Diversity Day programs, relating his first forays into civil rights activism. Zellner’s father and grandfather were both members of the Ku Klux Klan, and it was not until a college assignment that Zellner attended a civil rights rally that included Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. As reported in the Monterey County Weekly, Zellner credits Parks’s advice — “If you see something wrong in the world, you have to do something about it. You can’t just keep studying it.” — with inspiring him to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and to continue to advocate for civil rights.

Recently, the Southampton Press reported, producers from the Oprah show taped Zellner as he travelled Montgomery speaking with Klansmen and police officers who fought with activists during the Civil Rights Movement. Zellner told the Press, “It was exhilarating being back. One of the Klansmen we talked to said, ‘I’ve come to see that Bob was right and I was wrong.'”

Zellner also described trying to protect the Freedom Riders in Montgomery: “The Klan stopped the bus, blew out the tires and burned the bus up with the Freedom Riders on board. Everybody escaped, but some were really injured for life. It was such a murderous mob that they were really attempting to kill the Freedom Riders, attacking them with bricks, leaving some for dead in the streets.” Zellner recounts in greater details these and other events in The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.

Watch a segment from Injustice Files at the show’s website. You can also read about Bob Zellner from the Southampton Press and Monterey County Weekly, or visit Zellner’s own Zellner Blog.

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, by Bob Zellner with Constance Curry, is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Virginia Pounds Brown’s classic work on Southern Indians back in print

Friday, March 4th, 2011 by Lisa Harrison

The World of the Southern Indians by Virginia Pounds BrownNewSouth Books never published Grand Old Days of Birmingham Golf, 1898-1930 by Virginia Pounds Brown, fondly recalled in a story by Ian Thompson that ran February 17 in The Birmingham News. But we are lucky to have acquired rights to reissue two classic works by the author, The World of the Southern Indians and Southern Indians Myths and Legends.

These books are are lively accounts of Native American life written for students ages 10 and up. Virginia Pounds Brown wrote these texts to fill gaps in the available history of her native Alabama. A former librarian and bookseller, Mrs. Brown wanted to make available to students research on Native American life that was engagingly presented. Many thousands of copies later, Linda Andrews of Hoover Public Library in Homewood, Alabama says, “These books are just as relevant today as they were when they were first published 20 years ago and just as needed — our old library copies have been loved a little too much!”

The World of the Southern Indians provides the story of the South’s
first people from prehistoric times to the present, focusing on the five great tribes: Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Creeks, and Seminoles. Also included is a dictionary of place names of Indian origin and a chronology of important dates. This practical primer proves an enjoyable
and informative read for young and old alike. It would be well served inside the classroom, and equally deserves a place on the shelf of any library. Booklist lauds the text as “a solid bank of information.”

In stories ranging from creation tales to exciting stories of
monsters and spirit folk, Southern Indian Myths and Legends provides informative, enjoyable first-hand accounts of the myths and legends that are the foundation of Southern Indian cultural history. Virginia Pounds Brown and co-author Laurella Owens have performed an important service in preserving and transmitting these stories, and NewSouth Books is proud to make them available once again to educators and young readers.

The World of the Southern Indians is available from NewSouth Books, or from your favorite retail or online bookseller. Southern Indian Myths and Legends is forthcoming in late fall 2011.

Glen Browder talks biracial politics at Converse College

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 by Sam Robards

Stealth Reconstruction by Glen Browder

Former Alabama Congressman Glen Browder said it was an interest in the role biracial politics played in the civil rights movement that inspired his two books with NewSouth, The South’s New Racial Politics and Stealth Reconstruction. Appearing at Converse College in February alongside his Stealth Reconstruction co-author, North Carolina Central University assistant professor Artemesia Stanberry, Browder discussed the role of these lesser-known civil rights activists and helped lead a dialogue on the future of race relations. The Winston-Salem Journal covered the event:

Browder, a South Carolina native and a professor emeritus at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, said he started thinking about the role biracial politics played in the civil-rights movement. He contacted Stanberry, who worked as his congressional aide and is now a political science professor at North Carolina Central University, to help him with the project.

Said Browder: “The heroic drama involved Dr. King and Rosa Parks on one side and you had Bull Connor turning fire hoses on people and George Wallace standing in doors of universities on the other side, but it occurred to me a lot of change was not of that nature.

“There were some black leaders and white politicians who got together behind closed doors and said, ‘We have to do things differently.'”

The authors said the work of these leaders was done “stealthy” or in secret. They said there had to be a transition right after the civil-rights movement made up of leaders and politicians interested in moving the South beyond segregation in the 1970s through the ’90s.

“It had to be done stealthy because white politicians wouldn’t have been able to get elected if people knew what they were doing and black leaders couldn’t get elected at that time,” Browder said. “Civil disobedience helped to change laws in the legal system, but there was mass resistance.

“It took practical politics to help change things.”

Read the full article from the Winston-Salem Journal.

Stealth Reconstruction: The Untold Story of Southern Politics and History is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online or retail bookseller.