Archive for April, 2015

The Week on Bob Zellner’s walk to protest demise of rural American healthcare

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

The USA edition of the British paper The Week featured Bob Zellner (pictured fourth from left) — author of The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement, published by NewSouth Books — in a article on the partnership between a conservative and a progressive activist advocating on behalf of rural healthcare, an endangered species.

Democrat Zellner and his friend Adam O’Neal, the Reublican mayor of Belhaven, North Carolina, were interviewed by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove about an arduous and sometimes lonely two week-long walk from Belhaven to Washington, D.C. the pair made in the summer of 2014 to draw attention to the demise of rural hospitals caused by states’ refusals to expand Medicaid. The walk will be made again beginning June 1, with the men planning this time to be accompanied by 283 walkers representing the number of hospitals closed. More information on the walk is available at the Walk from NC to DC website.

The protest began when a Belhaven resident died waiting for transport to a hospital after the local hospital was closed due to lack of state funding.

The Week points out, “‘Critical access’ hospitals were established during the Truman administration to provide life-saving healthcare to America’s heartland, where people often find themselves too far removed from a regional hospital to receive timely treatment in an emergency. Because they do not see the volume of patients that have become the norm at major regional hospitals, these critical access hospitals often require federal subsidies to keep the doors open. This is nothing new; their existence has been a justified expense for millions of Americans since 1949.”

The Week adds, “For Zellner, this is a deadlock rooted in Southern history. He draws a direct connection between the civil rights marches of the 1960s and today’s Moral Movement in North Carolina, which has sided with Mayor O’Neal and the people of Belhaven.”

Bob Zellner has spent a lifetime working on behalf of the underprivileged. His life story from his years in SNCC to his current work is recounted in The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Guy and Candie Carawan honored for lifetime of social justice cultural education

Monday, April 27th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Sing for Freedom by Guy and Candie Carawan

Guy and Candie Carwan, authors of Sing For Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs, published by NewSouth Books, were honored recently by the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, McClung Historical Collection, and the Knox County Public Library with a celebration of their work for social justice. The program included a photography exhibit, showing of rare video footage from the civil rights era, and a musical performance.

The Carawans have been associated with the Highlander Research and Education Center, a leading social justice organization, since the 1950s, organizing cultural workshops and serving as consultants to the school. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, “the Carawans were almost the face of the center for many people.” The couple were popular folk musicians who adapted traditional songs with new lyrics about the civil rights struggle. These songs were collected into two collections, We Shall Overcome (1963) and Freedom is a Constant Struggle (1968), reprinted in a single edition by NewSouth Books in 2007.

The News Sentinel interviewed Candie Carawan in connection with the program showcasing their career.

The newspaper quoted Carwan, “We never sat down and plotted out, ‘Well, we’ll be working in the South for 35 years and doing all this documentary work. We just kind of took it year by year and followed our interests and in some ways followed the work that Highlander (Center) was doing. It just kind of added up to an interesting body of work and life of experiences.’

“‘You’ll get to this point, too, where you just cannot believe that much time has gone by and you’ve lived through these incredible periods of history. I think about the way the Civil Rights movement has been commemorated so much lately and it just doesn’t seem like 50 years ago, more than 50 years ago. Again, it’s just to have been so lucky. Both of us grew up in Southern California. How amazing is it that our paths crossed at Highlander and we were able to stay in the South and relate to so much incredible history that was going on?'”

Sing For Freedom is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Jacqueline Matte participates in MOWA Choctaw Indians Annual Pow-Wow

Friday, April 17th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

They Say the Wind is Red by Jacqueline MatteJacqueline Matte’s book They Say the Wind Is Red, after multiple printings, remains the definitive history of the Southwest Alabama Choctaw Indians, who managed to stay behind when their tribe was relocated in the 1830s. For the next 200 years, they resisted the efforts of unscrupulous government agents who tried to steal their land and resources, and always maintained their Indian communities even when government census takers listed them as black or mulatto. A moving saga, They Say the Wind Is Red chronicles a history of pride, endurance, and persistence, in the face of the abhorrent conditions imposed upon the Choctaw by the U.S. government.

Matte, an author and historian, testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearings for federal recognition of the Alabama Choctaw. Matte still remains active with the tribe, including attending the MOWA Choctaw Indians Annual Pow-Wow, held each year in October, “like a homecoming,” Matte says. She describes that “the ceremony begins with a prayer, veterans of all wars lead the way carrying the American flag. The Pledge of Allegiance to the USA is cited by all and then everyone who wants to participates in the opening ceremony by walking around the pow-wow grounds in their regalia — then the competitive dances begin. Each dance has a name — the women dance, the men dance and children dance, to the beat of the drums. It is a spectacular sight.” Matte sent these pictures from the event:

Matte also sent a picture from her recent visit with students from Calcedeaver Elementary School; most of the Calcedeaver students are from the MOWA Choctaw Indian tribe. Matte says, “All the students were brought in and seated on the floor. I told them about the stories their grandparents had told me. They asked me questions, which determined which aspect of their history I talked about. I loved it.”

For more information on a program with Jacqueline Matte for your school or organization, contact NewSouth Books at 334-834-3556.

They Say the Wind Is Red is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.