Kate Campbell on the Fox Tour, Rome, Ga to Easley SC
Cousins still live there and two sisters came back to Rome for the ending 30 years of their lives. Aunt Virginia was there all the time.
The Billy Foxxes grew up in Gaffney. Kate has performed in several churches in the Upstate over the years but this is a first for a church of active family members, in Easley.
Rome is the home of the parents and grandparents of Isabel Wilkerson, the first black woman to win the National Book award in Nonfiction. She has roots in the Thankful Baptist Church about a half mile from where Kate will be performing, and less the three football fields from where my parents were married in 49.
But it is in Easley I hope Kate doubles down on an intro to her magnificent cover of Kris Kristofferson's My God They Killed Him, about Martin King, Mahatma Ghandi and Jesus Christ.....On the Road to Glory.
There are a lot of grand figures with ties to the Civil Rights Movement from nearby Furman, and I'm hoping my friend Jim Pitts, longtime Chaplain at Furman, the son of Richard Nixon's Barber; I'm hoping Pitts is there.
Furman is the alma mater of Marshall Frady, whose biography of King is exquisite. Like Kate and me, his Dad was a Baptist preacher. At the request of Will Campbell, the only white man to be at the Lorraine Motel the night of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis, Pitts and his great friend TC Smith read a eulogy of Campbell for Frady when Frady died in 2004.
TC Smith flew from Berkely California in 1965 to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge with King and the Civil Rights workers. Later Smith was longtime member of the religion faculty at Furman. Marching with Smith that day was another Furman grad, Martin England, a founder of the Koinonia Farms in Americus Ga with Clarence Jordan.
England is widely known to be the major courier of King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail to the rest of the world. When he died another Furman professor and champion of human rights, Albert Blackwell said: "Martin England had an appetite for justice!"
These unsung white folks foot soldiers, mostly lost in the crowd maybe with the exception of Campbell and Frady outside the Furman community deserve recognition, a newly charged telling of their story. I hope Kate makes notice when she sings at Easley for a new generation. I know some of those children who will be in the audience that night. They need to hear.