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Archive for the 'books' Category

Barry Alexander Brown, Spike Lee team up on movie project based on Bob Zellner book

Monday, June 10th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Legendary civil rights activist Bob Zellner gained a loyal cadre of fans after the publication of his award-winning memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek in 2011, a book which was recently re-released in trade paperback, but the story will reach an entirely new audience with the production of Son of the South, a movie based on his book that is due out in fall 2019. Barry Alexander Brown and Spike Lee team up on 222-2 TWSMC fcover 300dpi project, with Brown directing and Lee signed on as executive producer; Brown has worked with Lee for more than 30 years, serving as editor on almost every film Lee has made. Brown met Bob Zellner twenty years ago and was fascinated by the civil rights activist’s story of redemption. He has adapted Zellner’s memoir into a biographical film, covering Zellner’s life from his time as a youth (he was born into a Klan family) to his becoming the first white field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The film features two rising stars in Lucas Till and Lucy Hale, both well-known for their roles in the hit TV shows MacGyver and Pretty Little Liars, respectively. Till plays Zellner with the passion and commitment to civil and human rights causes that the subject retains in his 80th year. To film one exciting scene, Brown and crew reenacted the tragic beating the Freedom Riders suffered in Montgomery outside of the actual Greyhound bus station where the historic event took place. Read more about Son of the South at the Hollywood Reporter and Variety (https://bit.ly/2WFJ9sI; https://bit.ly/31qwTe3), at AL.com, and also enjoy a special documentary interview with Barry Brown from Germantown High School’s student-led news program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV6UgFEaxF4.

Author Foster Dickson bridges school borders in the name of sustainability

Monday, May 20th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Foster Dickson is many things: a writer, an English teacher, a Southerner, and a former NewSouth staffer. He’s taught at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, Alabama, for many years now, but he recently embarked on a new project aimed at educating his students about environmental sustainability, especiallyAuthor Foster Dickson with respect to the production of food. Foster started a gardening club a few years ago, talking to students about how one can grow a garden and helping them to see sustainability as a social justice issue. Following Booker T. Washington’s recent move to a new campus, he found himself with enough space outdoors for an official school garden. To continue his personal growth as a sustainability educator and advocate, Foster has joined forces with Loveless Academic Magnet English teacher Gina Aaij and will attend the Rob and Melani Walton National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy in Montana. “Since neither Gina nor I are science teachers, I thought we were a long shot to get in,” he said. Foster’s new book Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery is an example of his other social justice work, as he struggled to bring the true story behind Bernard Whitehurst’s killing at the hands of a Montgomery police officer to light. About his book historian Richard Bailey says, “Foster Dickson has pulled together every possible resource to afford Bernard Whitehurst Jr. the sense of justice surrounding his death that he never received in life.”

Aileen Kilgore Henderson awarded Druid Arts Award from the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Aileen Kilgore Henderson is much beloved in artistic and historical circles in Alabama. So we are pleased to see her work celebrated last month by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa, which awarded her the Druid Arts 56890335_10157286392877009_4602948311190601728_o Award in the Literary Arts. The award recognizes the demonstrated quality of her body of work, her contributions to the literary community, and the overall visibility she has helped bring to the arts. Pictured here with her daughter and son-in-law, Henderson is the award-winning author of several children’s books, but it’s her Eugene Allen Smith’s Alabama we are obviously most proud of. This book published by NewSouth Books is the definitive work on Alabama’s first state geologist, who spent the better part of a lifetime traversing the state with notebook and Brownie camera in hand, documenting Alabama’s abundant natural and geological resources. Smith’s work directly contributed to the commercial and industrial development of Alabama of the late nineteenth century. Lewis Dean in his foreword to the book says, “Smith was short in stature, but a giant of1588382435 a man. He believed in progress. His life and work testify to the conviction that society and individuals can build a better world.” Like Smith, Ms. Henderson has done her state a service. Eugene Allen Smith’s Alabama reintroduces a preeminent Alabamian, who in his own time had a positive influence in shaping his native state and left an enduring legacy of science and service. We celebrate Ms. Henderson’s outstanding achievement in returning that story to us.

Jacqueline Trimble wins 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize for debut collection, American Happiness

Friday, July 14th, 2017 by Randall Williams

In a bit of great news, American Happiness, recently published by NewSouth Books, wowed the judges of the Balcones Prize, winning the 2016 award for Jacqueline Allen Trimble in the poetry category. The judges at Austin Community College said of her work, “Hers is a refreshing voice. Her poetry is intimate and irony-filled.” They add, “Trimble should never be taken lightly — but, darn it, her poems are so often funny.” Certainly, Jackie Trimble does not take receipt of the award lightly. She was overjoyed about it, especially given the caliber of the poetry award finalists — Claudia Rankine, Bryce Milligan, James Galvin, and Martin Espada — sevand the many greats who were previous winners (Natalie Diaz and Mark Jarmon, to name just two). For Jackie Trimble, the Balcones Award follows receipt of the 2016 Seven Sisters Book Award in the poetry category. The Seven Sisters Book Awards recognize “the stories of women and those who tell them.” The award was established by author Lynne Hinton in 2015.

American Happiness is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite bookstore.

Historians in Service of a Better South honors Paul Gaston, author and activist

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Brian Seidman

Historians in Service of a Better South: Essays in Honor of Paul GastonHistorians in Service of a Better South, new from NewSouth Books, has as its subtitle “Essays in Honor of Paul Gaston.” The book is a Festschrift, a collection of essays by Gaston’s students and colleagues over his long career at the University of Virginia and through his long-time involvement in civil rights causes. Robert Jefferson (Jeff) Norrell and Andrew Myers edited the book.

Gaston himself sent a video message to the contributors and to NewSouth, thanking them for what he called a “handsome book.”

Gaston joined the history department of the University of Virginia in 1957, teaching Southern and civil rights history until his retirement in 1997. His involvement in civil rights and social justice began with his role as a community organizer and participant in protest movements and sit-ins during the 1960s. At UVA he led student and faculty efforts to dismantle segregation. He served as research director of the Southern Regional Council; he was a member of the SRC’s executive committee from 1974-1998 and presidentfrom 1984-1988.

Books by Paul Gaston include The New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking (winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award), Women of Fair Hope, Man and Mission: E. B. Gaston and the Origins of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony, and Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea, all published or returned to print by NewSouth Books. He also contributed essays to Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent and Dixie Redux, itself a Festschrift to scholar Sheldon Hackney.

Contributors to Historians in Service of a Better South: Essays in Honor of Paul Gaston include Edward Ayers, Raymond Gavins, James Hershman, John T. Kneebone, Matthew Lassiter, Gregg Michel, Lynda J. Morgan, Stephen O’Neill, Robert Pratt, Steve Suitts, Randolph Werner, Myers, and Norrell.

Gaston called Historians in Service of a Better South “something that I never imagined I would have.” He said, “Thank you … for publishing a book that’s so important to me. I hope it will be important to others.”

Historians in Service of a Better South: Essays in Honor of Paul Gaston is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Remembering Leslie W. Dunbar

Thursday, January 5th, 2017 by Brian Seidman

Leslie DunbarWriter, professor, and civil-rights activist Dr. Leslie W. Dunbar died January 4, 2017 in New Orleans, three weeks from his 96th birthday.

In the turmoil of the 1960s, Dunbar worked with the Southern Regional Council, helping — among other initiatives — to create the Voter Education Project; the project is credited with registering two million African American voters. Later that decade Dunbar directed the Field Foundation, dedicated to child welfare and civil rights, including funding Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dunbar also taught political science at a number of colleges and universities, and worked with the Ford Foundation. Even after “retirement,” he continued to be active in political and social justice causes. He is the author, editor, or contributor to at least nine books, including from NewSouth Books Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent; American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Promise and Peril; and Looking for the Future: A Meditation on Political Choice. In summer 2016 NewSouth also published a collection of tribute essays, Leslie W. Dunbar: Reflections by Friends, that included a message from Congressman John Lewis among others.

Friends and family remember Leslie Dunbar, including his son, author Tony Dunbar.

NewSouth Books celebrates seven years of partnership with the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning at Auburn University

Friday, September 30th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

In the Company of Owls by Peter HugginsNewSouth Books has enjoyed working the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning in a partnership that has continued for seven years. OLLI is a program for learning in retirement for adults 50 and older. Members can choose from offerings that include academic courses as well as recreational and health activities.

Authors including Rev. Robert Graetz (A White Preacher’s Message on Race and Reconciliation), Warren Trest (Nobody But the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor), Rheta Grimsley Johnson (Hank Hung the Moon, Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming, Poor Man’s Provence), Frye Gaillard (Go South to Freedom, Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters, The Books that Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir, Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music), Kathryn Tucker Wyndham (She: The Old Woman Who Took Over My Life, Spit, Scarey Ann and Sweat Bees: One Thing Leads to Another, Alabama, One Big Front Porch, Jeffrey’s Favorite 13 Ghost Stories), Robert Baldwin (Life and Death Matters: Seeking the Truth About Capital Punishment), and Skip Tucker (Pale Blue Light) have given presentations at OLLI. The speakers unanimously praise the great interest and participation of audiences and the superb hosting of the OLLI staff.

Joining this list of illustrious presenters is Peter Huggins (In the Company of Owls), who will lead a workshop on writing poetry at the OLLI Writers Workshop at Pebble Hill on Thursday, October 13. Huggins is an Alabama State Council on the Arts poetry fellow. Other session leaders for the day include AU Professor Frank Walters on memoir writing; prolific children’s author and poet Charles Ghigna on writing for children; and award-winning short story author Carrie Spell on writing fiction.

Enrollment in the day-long program is limited to 40 participants with a cost of $25 for OLLI members and $50 for non-members; lunch is included.

If you haven’t discovered the pleasures of the OLLI experience, don’t delay in exploring the offerings at the OLLI closest to you.

NewSouth Books titles are available direct from our website or your favorite bookstore.

William Heath wins Western Writers of America Spur Award

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

The Children Bob Moses Led by William HeathWilliam Heath (The Children Bob Moses Led) is the winner of the Spur Award for Best Western Historical Nonfiction for his new book William Wells and and the Struggle for the Old Northwest. The Spur Awards are given by the Western Writers of America. Heath’s is the first biography of William Well, a frontiersman born to Anglo parents and captured and raised by Miami Indians.

Heath has written on a variety of topics, with works of fiction, history, and poetry published. His novel The Children Bob Moses Led was named by Time magazine as one of the eleven best novels of the African American experience in 2002. The novel was recently republished by NewSouth Books.

Congratulations Bill on the Spur Award!

The Children Bob Moses Led is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Faye Gibbons celebrates literary legacy of Sue Pickett

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

The Path was Steep by Suzanne PickettOne NewSouth author pays homage to another in the current issue of Alabama Heritage magazine. Faye Gibbons, author of the young adult novel Halley, penned a beautiful appreciation of Suzanne Pickett, whose memoir The Path Was Steep: A Memoir of Appalachian Coal Camps During the Great Depression was rereleased by NewSouth Books in 2013. Gibbons writes that though Pickett worked as a newspaper writer, “her memoir offers the most endearing insight into her life and the lives of others who survived during the Depression.”

Gibbons is no stranger to hard times herself, having grown up in a large Appalachian farm family and lived in mill towns in Georgia. Her article follows Suzanne Pickett from her birth in a mining family to her marriage to a miner, David Pickett. Struggling to survive the Depression, the family moved to follow jobs, and tried farming. Sue landed a newspaper job for a brief time that helped to supplement income. Even after her husband landed a more secure job, Pickett continued to write, producing plays for local students and short stories. She then went on to write the memoir that Gibbons says “captures the Depression in all its misery and shows how one family was able to endure hardships.” Adds Gibbons, “Even at a time when few women in her circumstances had literary ambitions, Suzanne Pickett was able to use words to create a compelling portrait of a formative time in our history.”

Suzanne Pickett

Suzanne Pickett

Halley and The Path Was Steep are available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Harper Lee remembered by Bob Zellner

Monday, February 22nd, 2016 by Suzanne La Rosa

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Bob Zellner, civil and human rights organizer and NewSouth Books author of The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, offers a personal reflection on the passing of literary great Harper Lee, who died on February 19; she was 89.

A great Alabamian has died. When I first read Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, I could tell the author was a Southerner by her description of the cordite smell of green pecan hulls and the indelible green stain they leave when crushed by young bare feet.

It also reminded me of the time when I got my first BB gun. Daddy sternly admonished me never to aim at anything I did not intend to kill. Especially, he warned, do not kill a mockingbird. Walking outside with my birthday gun in the spring of 1945 I saw a mockingbird perched in the top of a bush way over there in the back yard. Thinking I could not possibly hit a swaying bird with my very first shot, I aimed and pulled the trigger. To my absolute horror the bird slowly toppled to the ground and lay perfectly still. Not even considering a cover up, I rushed over and cupped the warm carcass in my hand, walked back in the house, and showed it to Daddy, knowing he was going to tear me up as only a Southern Methodist preacher could whip a willful six-year-old. Teacher, pastor and father in one package, the Rev. James Abraham Zellner taught me a good lesson that day. Maybe a God lesson. “I’m not going to whip you today, Bobby,” he said, “because you have just proved the wisdom of what I told you. You’ll remember this your whole life: Never kill a mockingbird.”

Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was one of hope, young hope. Her last, Go Set a Watchman, a sad acknowledgment of the incredible power of racial hate in my home state of Alabama, reveals that Atticus was a Kluxer. She gives us one more reminder about how America, especially the American South, has yet to confront, admit, and rectify the original sin of legal racialism enshrined in its founding documents — African Americans were three fifths of a person.

When President Barack Obama won in 2008 only 11 percent of Alabama white voters could bring themselves to pull the lever enabling a black man and his family to move into the White House. So maybe it’s fitting that Atticus Finch — a huge hero in the early sixties for mounting a tepid and legally flawed defense of a black man in a Southern court — turned out to be a stone racist.

No wonder the South, as revealed by the Presidential campaign, is still the most reliable exponent of racial extremism. Are we indelibly stained by green pecan shells and the rank odor of racism or will poor and working class Southern whites finally scrub out that damned spot? We must stop voting against our own economic interests. Rich white people, “one percenters,” may indeed profit from racism, but poor and working class Southerners never have and never will. We have, along with black people, been grievously wounded by our racist practices. I believe that Harper Lee, and all the progressive folks who surrounded and sustained her, would agree with me that sisterhood and brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those who profit by postponing it pretend.

Bob Zellner, SNCC/NAACP

Bob Zellner’s memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement is available in print and ebook from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.