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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at www.clsnet.org if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sellers 42%; Furman celebrates 50th Anniversary of Desegregating campus

   In 1968 there was a disturbance at S.C. State in Orangeburg and several students were killed. Cleveland Sellers was arrested and designated a radical. Laurel Mississippi Baptist minister's son Charles Marsh celebrated Seller's struggle in his remembrance of 60's Civil Rights Era in God's Long Summer.
    This past April Marsh published his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer--one of the three greatest Christian martyrs of the 20th Century as Busted in Westminster Abbey--A Strange Glory. In that book this author who celebrated the struggle of Sellers has a chapter "I heard the Gospel preached in the Negro Churches" about Bonhoeffer's 1931 stay in America. On page 341 Marsh has a segment on Bonhoeffer's NY's Eve of 1943 lament on the "politics of stupidity". Shortly into 44 Bonhoeffer was arrested.
     Nov 4th, Last Tuesday Cleveland Sellers son, Bakari, a gifted scholar and politician, lost his bid for LT Gov of S.C. with only 42 percent of the vote.
   With the confusion of nation or the South's lost Cause with the religion of Jesus, South Carolina and the tea party across the region has a problem similar to Bonhoeffer's concern in Germany in the 1940's. Matter of degree for sure, but Andrew Sullivan saw a similar problem with Bush 43 invasion of Iraq with all its fundamentalist backing saying how could he condemn Moslem extremists, "while winking at milder versions in his own constituency."
     
    Ten years after Bonhoeffer's death in 45, in 1955 Furman University students and most of the faculty were understanding Brown Vs Brd of Education was the right direction for the country but folks like Strom Thurmond and leading Southern Baptist pastor WA Criswell had other thoughts in mind. Criswell gave a speech to a joint session of the SC legislature where he said "you wouldn't call a chigger a chiggerow" now would you and the Cracker Baptist Preachers and the state legislators just howled.

   In Gaffney a Doctors house was bombed on College Drive about a half mile from where I was to move in 1962 by a cell of the KKK. It got written up in Jumpn Jim Crow.

     Furman did integrate in 1965, two years after Marshall Frady graduated. Steve Oneill of the History Department has written an excellent history of those days about the intrigue among the trustees of the University and the Baptist State Convention. With Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America as a larger frame they were interesting days indeed.

    But go wider to the heart of Baptist fundamentalism and Thomas Powers recent piece on Texas in NY Rev of Books and it doesn't look like we've come very  far. A Christian doesn't have to vote for somebody in the South just because he's black, but it looks like all the good efforts of Furman and Wofford, Converse, Erskine, College of Charleston even Limestone and few pockets of Clemson and USC Columbia have come to much. Rough estimate is Sellers son, a gifted young politician only got ten percent of the white vote. Ten percent after 50 years isn't much. There aren't as many wise discerning Christians as one would hope by this point with all the efforts, the energies to produce leaders of better influence.

    Fox news and the Tea Party right wingers were fuming the last few days of the midterm elections about Ferguson ads in Georgia and NOrth Carolina to get out the black vote. They may have a point. But Molly Worthen of UNC and Jason Zengerle of the New Racism piece in the New Republic have the larger point. Lee Atwater's race card is strong and folks like Trey Gowdy and James Lankford whose Southern Baptist credentials are stronger than Jesse Helms ties to the White Citizens Council go mute when time to speak straightforwardly to these matters, or with substance and virtue on immigration reform. Here in Bama House Speaker Mike Hubbard whose Bleaching Strategy is most insidious keeps on plugging along making money off people of color on the Auburn football team.

    Hubbard's son Clayte is a Freshman at Furman. It would be a travesty if he graduates from Frum Furman with the same headset he went in with, or anything close to his father's on race.

     The Black Mormon woman from Utah and Tim Scott in South Carolina; God Bless their Story but lot more going on than their story.

   So lets bring Joe Crespino and Condi Rice, Thomas Powers and Mike Hubard to Furman this spring and lets talk about this after everybody does the remedial reading. 50 years after the fact, in light of Bonhoeffer and Texas Fundamentalism, Ed Young and Harry Dent, Bleaching and Immigration strategies of deportation of some of the finest High school students in my Mother's hometown of Collinsvillle, Alabama; lets look at this one more time at Furman, and see if it has come to anything.

  And next fall Charles Marsh and Molly Worthen.

     Marshall Frady, Martin England, T.C. Smith and L.D. Johnson seems to me expect no less.

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