Archive for April, 2011

Student Freedom Riders to talk Beyond the Burning Bus with Phil Noble

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 by Sam Robards

Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Town by Rev. J. Phillips Noble

NewSouth Books would like to commend the journey of the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides through the South. The program is composed of 40 college students from over 30 states, chosen by American Experience, whose goal is to spark a national debate concerning the role of civic engagement in today’s society.

The group will travel the course laid out by the original Freedom Rides, arriving in Anniston, Alabama, on May 11. While there, they will meet Rev. J. Phillips Noble, who will give the riders autographed copies of his book, Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Town, which discusses the effects of the Anniston bus bombing of 1961 on that small Southern town. The tour will then journey onward until they reach New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 16 for the premiere of the film Freedom Riders on PBS.

The 2011 Student Freedom Riders include: Maricela Aguilar, Liliana Astiz, Stephanie Burton, Meghna Chandra, Sarah Cheshire, Michellay Cole, Collis Crews, William Dale, Peter Davis, Rajlakshmi De, Rachael DeMarce, Francisco Diaz, Doaa Dorgham, JoyEllen Freeman, LeRoy Ford, Lu-Anne Lopez Haukaas, Marshall Houston, Bakhrom Ismoilov, Esther Kim, Davis Knittle, Diana Mahoney, Jason McGaughey, Tariq Meyers, May Mgbolu, Anna Nutter, Carla Orendorff, Ryan Price, Benjameen Quarless, Charles Reed Jr., Nathan Roberson, Robert Sgrignoli, Erica Shekell, Alicia Skeeter, Tania Smith, Michael Tubbs, John Walker, Zilong Wang, Jayanni Webster, Kaitlyn Whiteside and Samantha Williams.

In Beyond the Burning Bus, Phil Noble recounts Anniston’s decision to form the biracial Human Relations Council, which he chaired, after the Ku Klux Klan firebombed a Freedom Riders bus. In response to that incident, a few black and white leaders in Anniston came to the conclusion that desegregation was inevitable and it was better to unite the community than to divide it. The book includes many powerful photographs from that period.

Learn more about the 2011 Student Freedom Ride at Visit the official Anniston, Alabama website at

Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Town by Rev. J. Phillips Noble, is available in hardcover and ebook formats from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.

Lawyer Jock Smith profiled for Ford Freedom Award

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Sam Robards

Climbing Jacob's Ladder: A Trial Lawyer’s Journey on Behalf of 'the Least of These' by Jock Smith

NewSouth Books would like to congratulate Jock Smith, author of Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: A Trial Lawyer’s Journey on Behalf of “the Least of These” for being profiled by this year’s annual Ford Freedom Award Program.

The Ford Freedom Award Program is a collaboration between the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Service, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, and others to honor African Americans that have made lasting contributions to American life. This year’s award program, titled “Champions of Justice: African Americans in the Law,” focused on African American achievements in the American legal system.

Smith will be profiled along with other African American legal figures in a sixteen-page student supplement that will be disseminated to requesting schools. An excerpt from Smith’s profile reads:

Smith was born in New York City in 1948. At Tuskegee University, he was on the track and baseball teams and vice president of student government and graduated with high honors. On academic scholarship, he went to the University of Notre Dame Law School and founded the school’s chapter of the Black American Law Students’ Association.

After he earned his law degree, he became a legal advisor to the NAACP’s Civil Rights Project in Broome County, New York, where he worked with low-income clients.

With the late Johnnie Cochran, he cofounded one of the nation’s most prominent legal firms.

Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: A Trial Lawyer’s Journey on Behalf of “the Least of These,” by Jock Smith, is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson writes “On Faith” in Washington Post

Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Brian Seidman

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming by Rheta Grimsley Johnson“The one belief I never revealed in three decades-plus was my disbelief,” writes syndicated newspaper columnist and NewSouth author Rheta Grimsley Johnson in a March 28 guest-post on the Washington Post “On Faith” blog; Johnson would later talk about religion in her memoir Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming. “I figured that straw for a Bible Belt columnist would be the last. I never said I did believe. But I never said I did not. It was a sin of omission.”

Johnson describes how she had kept her “disbelief” secret for years, for fear of alienating her readers. After the death of her husband Don, however, Johnson said she grew “fearless” enough to make her opinions known.

“The year of my husband’s death, I somehow finished a memoir I’d already begun for NewSouth Books, a Montgomery, Ala., publishing house,” Johnson continues. “Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming for the first time made clear my position on faith and religion. No bones. No hedges. I finished the manuscript in September, 2009, and waited a little nervously for its release in March of 2010. How would my regular readers, the ones who for so long had indulged my liberal politics and feminist rants, react to this ultimate departure from Southern mores?”

In the year that followed, Johnson describes, she received mixed responses to her revelations in the book; often those she expected to be shocked were not, and those she hadn’t expect to be were. Her fear of speaking about religious issues might have been unfounded, she notes, though she remains unsure if she would have faced editorial pressure not to potentially offend readers.

Read Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s full essay, “My belief system? Disbelief,” at the Washington Post “On Faith” blog. You can also visit Johnson at her official website,

Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books,, or you favorite retail or online bookseller.

Anna Olswanger’s Shlemiel Crooks musical to premiere

Thursday, April 7th, 2011 by Brian Seidman

Shlemiel Crooks by Anna OlswangerA number of reviewers have complimented Anna Olswanger’s award-winning children’s book Shlemiel Crooks for the music of its Yiddish-inflected language. Now, Shlemiel Crooks and a number of Olswanger’s other stories will actually be set to music, as a new Shlemiel Crooks musical comes to the stage. Shlemiel Crooks: The Musical, directed by Wendy Gross Baker, premieres April 10 at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York, featuring the hall’s professional Poppy Seed Players troupe.

Shlemiel Crooks tells the story of a stalwart community’s effort to keep the ghost of Pharaoh from ruining Passover; the new musical will debut as the Poppy Seed Players’ first Passover play, similar to their annual Purim show. Olswanger told the New Jersey Jewish Standard that working with the musical’s scriptwriters was “not really hard. I was lucky. These are good people. The goal is to have a fun musical for kids.”

Olswanger recently wrote about the origins of Shlemiel Crooks on the JewishGen blog. In her essay “Genealogy: The Gift of Stories,” Olswanger writes about how a desire to hear again the stories of her late father lead her to genealogical research. A Yiddish newspaper article about bumbling crooks trying to steal her great-grandfather’s Passover wine became the basis for Shlemiel Crooks, which received rejections from over one-hundred publishers before being accepted by NewSouth, and going on become a Sydney Taylor Honor Book, a Koret International Jewish Book Award Finalist, and a PJ Library Book, along with a musical and puppet show.

“Best of all,” Olswanger writes, “Shlemiel Crooks allowed me to pay tribute to my great-grandparents. Although I don’t have my own children to give their story to as a gift, the way my father gave his stories to me as gifts, I can give the story of my great-grandparents to any child who reads or hears Shlemiel Crooks.”

Also on the JewishGen blog, Toby Bird reviews Shlemiel Crooks, calling it “vibrant.”

“The period details are quite wonderful,” Bird notes. “It’s as if we’re listening, not reading. In fact the story begs to be read aloud. Enhancing the animated narration are the colorful drawings by Paula Goodman Koz, many of them full-page.”

Read Anna Olswanger’s “Genealogy” essay and Toby Bird’s review at the JewishGen blog. You can learn more about Shlemiel Crooks: The Musical from the Merkin Concert Hall, or connect with Anna Olswanger at

Shlemiel Crooks is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.