Archive for the 'Where We Stand' 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.

Old Wars (and Harold Bosley) Remembered

Friday, September 21st, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Les Dunbar, contributor to Where We Stand (NewSouth Books 2004) and the forthcoming sequel, American Crisis, Southern Solutions: Where We Stand II (February 2008), sends this message occasioned by a recent trip:

Peggy and I went last week on an Elderhostel to Baltimore for a wonderful three days of Mozart and other music, played beautifully by pianists at the Peabody Institute. I lived my late teens in Baltimore, my parents perforce uprooted from West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley. So I have a store of memories of the city, and Peggy has hers. Among mine is the handsome square where the Peabody is located, including its statue to Maryland’s son, one time Chief Justice Roger Taney, who like a number of southern political figures — Senator Fulbright, for one example — had commendable records on issues other than race, on which they were abominable.

A prominent feature of the square is the large Mt. Vernon Methodist Church. I remember going to it several times in 1940, maybe in 1939, too. I did so in order to hear the preacher, Harold Bosley. He was a strong voice for non-involvement in the looming war in Europe. I liked his message. (I believe he later became Dean of Divinity at Duke University.) We have, mostly, forgotten how strong was the oppostion to American involvement at the time. Who now recalls that the Draft passed by only one vote in the House? The intercollegiate debate topic in 1940 was phrased something lilke this: Resolved, that the U.S. should extend economic assistance to England and its allies. I never heard an affirmative team that did not make its case, that economic aid would not lead to military involvement, or a negative team that did not insist it would. A year later that was all changed (and so was my opinion).

I am reminded, too, of the first war against Iraq, now generally regarded as a “good, at least necessary” war, and approval ratings for its leaders are high. But opposition to it at the time was fierce. Who now remembers that Senator Sam Nunn was a leader of it? In Durham, N.C. one night, we had an almost unbelievable thousands — some reports were 5,000 — out for a candle-lit demonstration in opposition.

We embrace our wars, typically, and dis-remember their dissenters. I read already in the newspapers discussion of the “next” war; is war to be always our destiny?

Has warring become the essential American way of life? Especially as it has become so distant from most of our daily lives? And when as today in Iraq we can hire its warriors, as old monarchs did? What have we become?

Paul Gaston's Where We Stand Essay in Archipelago Magazine

Friday, August 18th, 2006 by Brian Seidman

As the November political season gets closer, now’s a perfect time to sample a bit of NewSouth’s renowned book of essays from twelve leading Southern historians, activists, civil rights attorneys, law professors, and theologians, Where We Stand, discussing militarism, religion, the environment, voting rights, the Patriot Act, the economy, prisons and crime, and more. Courtesy of the online journal Archipelago, Paul M. Gaston’s Where We Stand essay is now online. Gaston, a distinguished Southern historian, is also the author of the classic New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking.

Read Paul Gaston’s essay, “My Yellow Ribbon Town: A Meditation on My Country and My Home,” at the following link.

Where We Stand and New South Creed are both available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online bookseller.