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Archive for October, 2014

Fred Gray on Case Western, Cuba Gooding Jr. in Selma

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Brian Seidman

Bus Ride to Justice by Fred GrayEsteemed civil rights lawyer Fred Gray grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1940s-50s, but to pursue his goal of “destroy[ing] everything segregated that I could find, he had to leave the state to earn his law degree. Because African Americans weren’t allowed to attend Alabama law schools and Gray knew people who had moved to Cleveland, Ohio, he enrolled at Western Reserve, now know as Case Western Reserve University.

In recognition of the new edition of Gray’s memoir, Bus Ride to Justice, Case Western’s Think Magazine‘s Bill Lubinger spoke with Gray about his experiences at the school and about his experiences with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other civil rights events. They also talked about the new movie Selma, produced by Oprah Winfrey, in which Cuba Gooding Jr. has been cast as Gray.

Gray spoke with Lubinger about the revelation in Gray’s new edition of Bus Ride to Justice that he and Rosa Parks had discussed, prior to Parks’s historic arrest, the need for someone to be arrested to serve as an inciting incident to end bus segregation. Gray said, “She worked at a department store a block-and-a-half from where my office was located, so we shared our lunches every day and talked about the conditions on the buses. We talked about what one should do if asked to get up and give up her seat [to a white passenger], and I knew Mrs. Parks was certainly ready to do whatever she could do to end these problems. And, of course, it developed that the opportunity presented itself and she refused to get up and give her seat and was arrested.” Gray subsequently consulted others in the community and made plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Lubinger asked about experiences at Case Western that had an impact on Gray’s life, and Gray recalled that “Professor [Samuel] Sonnenfeld, who was my faculty adviser, told me, ‘Don’t be afraid to seek assistance from more experienced lawyers and share the fee with them.’ If you notice, in all of my early civil rights cases, I always found some lawyer who had more experience than I had to be associated with on the case. It’s one of the guiding principles of my law practice.”

Finally, Lubinger asked Gray, “What do you think of the choice of Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. to play you in Selma, the upcoming movie about the civil rights movement? Any advice on how to play you?”

Gray replied, “I certainly would like the opportunity to talk with him and explain to him a lot of the details . . . and the conversations between Dr. King and me that no scriptwriter of a screenplay would know. I think he’s an excellent actor, and I’m sure he’ll do a very good job.”

Read “A Legal Legend” on the Think Magazine website.

Bus Ride to Justice is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller.

Tennessean highlights music program featuring NewSouth’s Frye Gaillard, Davis Raines, Pamela Jackson and others

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Lisa Harrison

Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music by Frye Gaillard

In a recent features story, The Tennessean‘s Peter Cooper calls Frye Gaillard’s Watermelon Wine “the first great and inspiring book I ever read about Nashville music-makers.” Evidently, our NewSouth author found inspiration in his own work too, as he’s now writing songs and touring with his favorite Nashville singer-songwriters who perform them. The program is titled “Watermelon Wine and the Poetry of Southern Music.” Frye reads passages from from his book, sometimes in the company of NewSouth author Rheta Grimsley Johnson, who reads from her memoir about Hank Williams, Hank Hung the Moon. They are joined by Davis Raines, Pamela Jackson, and Anne E. DeChant.

In the article, Gaillard recalls first meeting Raines and Jackson and his admiration for their talents. The author-turned-lyricist notes: “I don’t find [songwriting] easy,” he says. “There’s the challenge of saying a lot in a small space, and making it rhyme. Having done it now, I’m more amazed at people who have done it really well, over an extended period of time.”

Raines and Jackson are both inspired by Gaillard’s gifts as a chronicler of Southern history, from the Civl War through the civil rights era. They credit him for his poetic lyrics, which describe human resilience in the face of social and economic hardship.

Frye Gaillard and friends continue to take “Watermelon Wine and the Poetry of Southern Music” to venues throughout the Southeast, stopping at public libraries, coffee houses, and universities, too — Belmont University in Nashville, most recently. Always they play to an appreciate audience.

Watermelon Wine and Hank Hung the Moon are available in print and ebook from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Eugene Bullard wins Moonbean Children’s Book Award, finalist for New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 by Lisa Harrison

Eugene Bullard: World's First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry GreenlyEugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot has won the Gold Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the Nonfiction category. The mission of the awards is to “celebrat[e] youthful curiosity and discovery through books and reading” by honoring the best children’s book, authors, and illustrators. The prizes are awarded by Jenkins Group, Inc. and IndependentPublisher, and are given in 43 categories.

The story of pioneering aviator Eugene Bullard is known to military history and aviation enthusiasts, but is not as familiar to the general public. Eugene Bullard recounts Bullard’s story from his birth in 1895 through his combat experiences as as expatriate pilot in World War I and World War II, to his return to America.

Larry Greenly says of the honor, “My award is really a testament to Eugene Bullard and his amazing life. I’m truly grateful that I discovered him, and I can only hope that his legacy will grow evermore. He deserves no less.”

Eugene Bullard is also a finalist for Best Young Adult Book in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, to be announced in November.

Eugene Bullard fans know he had another talent, as a drummer, developed during his time spent in Paris. In a short piece of amazing archival footage turned up by our author, you can see Bullard playing the drums with an ensemble of American jazz musicians in a nightclub called Zelli’s. The source of the video, Critical Past, identifies the flier in its description of the brief film. This historic footage is a rare glimpse of the celebrated pilot after his World War I triumphs.

Eugene Bullard is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Craig Darch featured as Visiting Scribe on Jewish Book Council’s The Prosen People

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 by Lisa Harrison

From Brooklyn to the Olympics: The Hall of Fame Career of Auburn University Track Coach Mel Rosen by Craig DarchProfessor Craig Darch got a chance to show off his lively prose style when he was asked to be a Visiting Scribe by the Jewish Book Council. The author of From Brooklyn to the Olympics: The Hall of Fame Career of Auburn University Track Coach Mel Rosen, was featured on the blog The Prosen People the week of September 15-19. Mr. Darch wrote two blog posts pertaining to his authorship of the Rosen biography.

In the first post, “How I Got Interested in Writing the Mel Rosen Biography,” the author reflects on his childhood in South Bend, Indiana, growing up in a family of sports fans who loved discussing the achievements of Jewish athletes. He describes a chance encounter with Coach Rosen that led to his decision to write the book.

The next post, “My Parents’ Legacy, My Library, and the Mel Rosen Biography,” describes Darch’s extensive personal library of Jewish books, including titles on Jews and sports that were helpful to him in the writing of From Brooklyn to the Olympics.

Darch’s family history combining love of good sports tales and of the printed word coalesced into the inspiring biography of Mel Rosen he was destined to author.

From Brooklyn to the Olympics is available in hardcover and ebook from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.