Archive for the 'American Crisis' Category

Remembering Dan Pollitt

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 by Brian Seidman

Dan Pollitt, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina Law School and contributor to two volumes of political essays published by NewSouth Books, Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent and American Crisis, Southern Solutions, died earlier this month; he was 88.

Pollitt was a graduate of Wesleyan University and Cornell Law, and he served in World War II as a Marine Infantry Officer. He served on the Southern Regional Council, on the board of the American Association of University Professors, and on the national boards of the ACLU and Southerners for Economic Justice. He has litigated and published widely in the areas of labor law, civil liberties, and civil rights. He fought for integration in the 1950s, supported gay rights in newspaper editorials, and supported the abolition of the death penalty.

In one of his last editorials, published in the News & Observer, Pollitt sympathized with soldiers fighting in Afghanistan after his own experiences in World War II. Some suggestions he made included stopping the drone bombings when innocent civilians might be killed; re-purposing rather than destroying poppy plants so as not to deprive the farmers of their livelihood; and bringing in more doctors and construction works to help heal and rebuild the country. Friends suggested that Pollitt’s progressive opinions here were suggestive of his character.

Author and professor Dan Carter remembered long-time friend Pollitt. “The last time I saw him,” Carter said, “he and Gene Nichol and I agreed to do a book presentation at the Regulator in Durham. It was a small crowd, but Dan gave his spiel with the kind of passion that most people reserve for an audience of thousands. And his indignation over the way in which our government had betrayed our best values as a nation seemed more conservative — in the best sense of the word — than radical. We often talk glibly about ‘inspirational mentors’ but Dan was the best kind and a needed reminder that we can’t give up, no matter how difficult things may seem.”

Read the News & Observer obituary of Dan Pollitt.

NewSouth Books expresses our condolences to Pollitt’s friends and family for their loss.

NewSouth Authors Sheldon Hackney and Leslie Dunbar Remember Ted Kennedy

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 by Andrew

As America honors Senator Ted Kennedy, two NewSouth authors remember fondly their time spent with the late senator. Politics of Presidential Appointment author Sheldon Hackney, and Leslie Dunbar, contributor to American Crisis, Southern Solutions (with Hackney) and Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent, recall their affectionate memories of the “Lion of the Senate.”

“He was my champion when I was going through a difficult confirmation process in 1993 to become the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Hackney said. “I’m reminded of how energetic and wise he was, and how much I owed him for leading me through the process. I must that say that I admire him even more for the way he has conducted himself during his final year on earth. He has been a model for us all.”

Dunbar recalled, “One day in 1970–or possibly early 1971–I had a phone call from his office: the senator would be in New York on an imminent day and would like to talk about a report soon to be issued on Indian education. On the appointed day and hour he arrived, walking alone down Park Avenue–I would not have at all been surprised had he sent a staffer instead. He had taken over from his brother Robert a special committee or task force on the topic of Indian education. Its report was now done, and he wanted to send it on its public way. For over an hour we discussed how best to do that–the sort of questions that staff persons always deal with. The difference being he was not a staffer, but a United States Senator. I was strongly impressed by his attention to and grasp of rudimentary details and his immersion in them. We have lost another good one.”

Sheldon Hackey is the former president of the University of Pennsylvania and is currently the Boies Professor of U.S. History at the University of Pennsylvania. Leslie Dunbar is the former director of the Southern Regional Foundation and the Field Council.

Dr. Regina Benjamin Named Surgeon General by Obama Administration, Profiled in American Crisis

Monday, July 13th, 2009 by Brian Seidman

Dr. Regina Benjamin — profiled by journalist Frye Gaillard in his essay in American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Promise and Peril — has been named the next surgeon general by President Barak Obama. Benjamin is an Alabama physician and, as president of the Alabama Medical Association, was the first female African America president of a state medical association.

On the occasion of Dr. Benjamin receiving a MacArthur Foundation award in 2008, Gaillard wrote, “It seemed to me that Dr. Benjamin’s story … offered powerful lessons for the health care industry during a time when so many people can’t afford what it offers.”

Read Gaillard’s full essay on Dr. Benjamin in American Crisis, Southern Solutions. The volume includes thoughtful, provocative essays from a dozen Southern writers, historians, business and labor-watchers, and philosophers, presenting suggestions for a fresh path America should follow in governance, international affairs, the environment, workplace security, freedom of the press, and immigration reform. They present “Southern solutions,” based upon southern experience, to a nation that has drifted far off course.

American Crisis, Southern Solutions is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Frye Gaillard Remembers Millard Fuller

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 by Brian Seidman

Author Frye Gaillard offers the following remembrance of Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, who died this past week. Gaillard wrote extensively about Fuller in his book If I Were a Carpenter: Twenty Years of Habitat for Humanity.

I was stunned by the news that Millard Fuller had died. Seldom have I met a man more vital, more energetic or committed to his work. The founder of Habitat for Humanity may have had his feet of clay–an inclination to greed in his early adulthood that almost ruined him; and random sexual longings later on that caused hurt to a few of the women he worked with. But Fuller was a good and decent man, and because of his energy and his life, more than a million people worldwide–many of them the poorest of the poor–are living today in good and sturdy homes.

At a critical time in his life, Fuller paid a visit to Koinonia Farms, a Christian commune in southwest Georgia where the Southern Baptist radical Clarence Jordan had taken a powerful stand for racial justice. Together, Fuller and Jordan came up with the Habitat idea–the notion that volunteers working in partnership with the poor could build decent houses that most low-income families could afford. The key to it all was a no-interest mortgage, because the Bible on that point was clear–explicit, in fact, in the Book of Exodus about not charging interest to people who were poor. Jordan thought the Bible meant what it said and so did Fuller, and the result became Habitat for Humanity–one of the high-water marks in American philanthropy.

If Fuller’s legacy is solid–a fitting reminder of his energy and drive–he is still a man who will be deeply missed.

Frye Gaillard is the author of If I Were a Carpenter: Twenty Years of Habitat for Humanity; With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions, including a profile of Millard Fuller; and Watermelon Wine and a contributor to American Crisis, Southern Solutions from NewSouth Books.

Dr. Regina Benjamin Receives MacArthur Foundation Genius Award

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation chose Dr. Regina M. Benjamin as one of twenty-five recipients of their $500,000 “genius awards.” The award, as described in The New York Times, goes to individuals “who are singled out for their creativity and their potential for making important future contributions.” Author Frye Gaillard wrote about Dr. Benjamin in his essay included in American Crisis, Southern Solutions, and he sent this statement regarding Dr. Benjamin’s award:

I was delighted to hear that Dr. Regina Benjamin of Bayou La Batre, Alabama has been named one of 25 MacAuthur Foundation Fellows for 2008, joining an astronomer, a neurobiologist, an urban farmer and a basketmaker from South Carolina. The $500,000 award, given to people who demonstrate what the foundation calls “exceptional creativity and promise,” will help Dr. Benjamin rebuild her rural health clinic, which was destroyed first by Hurricane Katrina and then again by fire. 

It was my privilege to profile Dr. Benjamin for the NewSouth book American Crisis, Southern Solutions in which a number of writers from our region searched the recent history of the South for lessons that could be of use to the nation. It seemed to me that Dr. Benjamin’s story — and her remarkable commitment to the welfare of her patients (among other things, she paid for their prescriptions after Hurricane Katrina) — offered powerful lessons for the health care industry during a time when so many people can’t afford what it offers.

Benjamin’s reaction to the grant, as reported by the Associated Press, typifies the assumptions of her work. She spoke of the destruction of her clinic and her patients’ reaction just after the storm. One woman, she said, whose family had been devastated by the flooding came by with a donation of seven dollars to help the clinic rebuild.

“If she can find seven dollars,” Benjamin said, “I can figure out the rest. The patients I treat have their own disasters. Hopefully this grant will help them in some way. It will be as much theirs as it is mine.” Such is Dr. Benjamin’s commitment to a small fishing village on the Alabama coast.

Learn more about Dr. Benjamin in American Crisis, Southern Solutions, available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune calls American Crisis Essential Reading

Monday, April 7th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

Book editor Susan Larson has reviewed American Crisis, Southern Solutions, the collection of Southern political essays edited by NewSouth author Anthony Dunbar. Larson favorably compares American Crisis and it’s predecessor Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent to the Agrarian anthology of the 1930s “I’ll Take My Stand.” She praises the essayists and Dunbar for creating a collection that “shows the ways in which the South can offer solutions to national dilemmas.”

From the review:

The list of topics goes on — environmental racism, immigration, voting problems for African-Americans, the lack of a governmental green agenda. These writers strike a progressive, positive, yet warning note.

In this election year, “American Crisis, Southern Solutions” is essential reading. Tick off a problem — religion and government, the war in Iraq, the erosion of civil rights — and this volume addresses it in a thoughtful way.

Read the full article from the Times-Picayune.

American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Promise and Peril is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.