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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 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, October 30, 2017

Frank Johnson, Nick Saban and St Francis Catholic Church vs Rick Burgess and the Know Nothing Alt Bama SBC in US Senate Race

      Friends as I recently blogged the devil Steve Bannon is on the ground in Bama seeking whom he may devour and the Alabama Southern Baptist Convention is struck mute, as flatfooted was the 8 Ministers to whom Martin Luther King sent the letter from the Birmingham Jail in 1963, Martin England courier. See Robinson essay Memory in the Givenness of Things to conjure up where Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be were he among us in the flesh in Bama now. He would be calling on Rick Lance to get right with Jesus, Lance the CEO of the BAMA SBC.

   Rick Burgess is the keynote speaker of the Bama SBC in Huntsville Nov 14. I expressed my reservations about his influence on the Facebook wall of Jax State, His alma mater and they blocked me from further comment. So much for what was once a grand institution educating the likes of my Grandfather for a career in public education. Now Rick Burgess and their wannabee football program apparently has them by the balls and Glen Browder and Brandt Ayers are of the past--google Mind Revisited, Crowther, Oxford American for Ayers lament.

    Jared Sexton on booktv live from Nashville Sunday week ago said public education is party to blame, no critical thinking, for setting up a mediocre voting public that gave us Donald Trump. If Sexton is right JSU may be the poster child and I can name at least one former assistant School supe in DeKalb County Alabama that should do the promotional videos for the teachers track at JSU.

     That said what about the Honors Program at U Bama, and their Legend Richard Shelby. Is he as dumbfounded by this moment as Rick Lance and the facebook wall of Jax State.

   One bright light seems to be Nick Saban's St Francis Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban's inference Trump was "deceitful" (Saturdays Down South) after the Huntsville Sonsabitches aside, is some indication somebody is thinking this through in Tuscaloosa. Some Baptist Revenants say St. Francis is as scared of the Know Nothing adventure of Roy Moore and Bannon, as Hispanics are of their colleagues Jeff Sessions and Kris Kobach.

    Judge Frank Johnson whose Constitutional views in part were shaped in the Baptist Church and the North Star of George W. Truett told George Wallace Lawyers: "the matter of contempt is for this court to decide, and not the alleged contemptors!"

   Richard Shelby, Sessions, Rick Lance, are no Frank Johnsons. He was a Lincoln Republican. They are Bannon Birch Trump Republicans, a travesty of a once great American political party. For the Know Nothings, see Harold Bloom in the Great American Religion; and Sidney Blumenthal's recently minted second installment of a trilogy, Lincoln in the 1850s.

    Here is a link to my alt right friend Right Reverend Steve Gaines formerly of Gardendale Bama, now at the Adrian Rogers Mega Bellevue in Memphis. In the picture you see Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn spiritual menton Ronnie Floyd on the left, that's big Steve on the Right.

   Twenty years ago and counting March 93 I was in the sanctuary of the FBC Bham with Gaines and a 1,000 Baptist preachers for an Inquisition orchestrated by the Bircher Albert Lee Smith for Samford President Tom Corts.

   And here we are now with the dark cloud of Moore and Bannon looming in Bama. Somebody fumbled, dropped the ball. I don't know if Nick and St Francis can carry the rest of us over the line Dec 14.

   God Help Us!!!

   Also see , google Religious Right out of the Closet, Religion Dispatches!!!

Friday, October 27, 2017

FU 69 Vernon Burton Acceptance Speech for SC Humanities Award

     You can make a strong Case the coming Nov 4 unveiling of what I understand is the first person of color to be honored in statuary in the State of SC is the result of the Chaplaincy program of Furman University in the 60s and early 70s. LD Johnson and Jim Pitts were cutting edge bringing folks like Will D Campbell to John Kerry and Nixon's southern strategiest Harry Dent to campus.

  In the winter of 68 they hosted Martin Luther King's mentor Benjamin E Mays on campus. A Few weeks later, King was assassinated. Present to hear Mays that day was a Junior Vernon Burton of Ninety Six South Carolina. He drove Mays around and they became lifelong friends.

   Now Burton a proff at Clemson is the go to guy for NPR and other national news media on the Charleston Nine, Monuments, Charlottesville and Other Matters. Read Burton in Jumpn Jim Crow which has an essay about my hometown of Gaffney SC but Duke Proff Tim Tyson.

   On October 19 while I was in Hayesville NC to celebrate the 150th anniversary year of likely the grandest Baptist of the first half of the 20th Century, George W. Truett, Mays was in Columbia SC to make a speech accepting the SC Humanities award. Good Day for Furman and the legacy of Johnson and Pitts. I was proud of my activity that day in North Carolina, but in Columbia Burton soared.

   With brief introduction here is Burton's magnificent address

Congratulations to Dr. Vernon Burton for being awarded The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities on October 19, 2017 at Hilton Columbia Center. Dr. Burton was on...e of four recipients at this year’s awards luncheon along with The Auntie Karen Foundation (Karen Alexander), The Hon. Betty Jo Rhea, and Dr. Dixie Goswami.
Now celebrating its 26th anniversary, the Governor’s Awards in the Humanities recognize outstanding achievement in humanities research, teaching, and scholarship; institutional and individual participation in helping communities in South Carolina better understand our cultural heritage or ideas and issues related to the humanities; excellence defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the national or world; and exemplary support for public humanities programs.
Dr. Burton gave a power acceptance speech that we believe is worth posting for all to read…

I am honored and humbled, especially since at this same time our friend Dixie Goswami, a hero to both Georganne and me, receives this award. I am grateful that my daughters took time off from busy lives, and brought grandchildren, to share this day.
It is an exciting time to be a historian in S.C. I grew up in the farming- textile community of Ninety Six. In 1969, I left for graduate school at Princeton, bracketed by two brief stints in the Army. I then spent 34 years at the University of Illinois researching and teaching the American South. I never wanted to leave home and my beloved mother, and when I met Georganne I told her I was only temporarily in Illinois until I could get back to South Carolina. One of the books I wrote, The Age of Lincoln, allowed me to retire and return home. Things have certainly changed dramatically in SC since 1969, and people here no longer care much for Lincoln, although I argue that he was not only the greatest president, but the greatest theologian of the 19th century, and a great southerner. The culture wars continue their cruel effect on democracy.
At least twice, our state has been at the forefront of United States history. In 1860, we led the nation in the wrong direction into civil war. Every elementary student knows the story, or at least a version of it; and on courthouse squares, and on the state house grounds, we celebrate the defeated Confederacy. Yet, South Carolina also led the nation during the Civil Rights Movement. Brown v. Board, which ended segregation, began in the 1940s when an extraordinary group of African American families in rural Clarendon County demanded a decent education for their children. Few know of these courageous heroes or their leader Rev. Joseph DeLaine, or their few white allies, who made our state and nation a more democratic and inclusive one. No monuments celebrate them nor their hard-fought victory.
South Carolina again has the opportunity to lead the nation in the right direction and to be on the right side of history. In the aftermath of the June 17, 2015 terrible tragedy, the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, I was interviewed by NPR and was not optimistic that the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia would be removed from the state house grounds. South Carolinians, however, illustrated the best of our shared culture, and consistent with their faith, the families of the victims of Mother Emanuel forgave the murderer Dylan Roof, and their acts of grace changed the debate. The word “grace” permeates the legislative debates on the flag. I believe that is why white legislators voted to furl the flag, some understanding for the first time what the Confederate flag symbolized to African Americans; and why it was so appropriate that President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the memorial service.
People do not learn their history from the books historians write (or my grandchildren would have a larger college fund). We learn our history from what our communities tell us is important, by what they memorialize and to whom they erect statues
Most important for learning is our state house grounds, and today every single monument or statue to a named individual recognizes only white supporters of slavery, segregation, or white supremacy. I acknowledge a monument to African American denizens (who until 1930 comprised the majority of South Carolina’s population), but no monument honors an African American individual or individual’s achievements. We can rectify this situation and help end, or at least moderate the worst of the culture wars by erecting statues and celebrating South Carolinians who went against the grain and fought against white supremacy and for justice and “grace.” Hosts of African American and white South Carolinians fought the good fight and can be role models for generations to come. We must balance our public history presentations.
Growing up in Ninety Six, I learned from a marker commemorating Congressman Preston Brooks’ 1856 caning of abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner in the Senate Chamber. That marker signified that the way to be celebrated was to brutally beat those with whom you disagree. (It is no wonder we were state champs in football!) There was another local hero, but because of segregation, I never heard of the long-time president of Morehouse College, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, until I met him during religious emphasis week my senior year at Furman. Today, that great theologian, spiritual god-father of the Civil Rights Movement, and mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated and recognized in Ninety Six, and I encourage you to visit the Benjamin E. Mays Historical Site in Greenwood where a statue will be dedicated to Dr. Mays Nov. 4. It is an excellent example of how we can do better, how a community can recognize an apostle, advocate, and example of peace and “grace,” an alternative role model for all youth, black and white. --- Thank you.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Speaking "Frank"ly to Rick Burgess, the face of the Bama SBC about Nick Saban and patriotism

       Rick Burgess is a graduate of Jax St U in NE Bama, historically a teacher's college. I have been active on their facebook wall recently and called the President's office with concerns about Burgess platform as one of their notable alums.

    Burgess pretty much these days in the face of the Southern Baptist Convention of Alabama. He will be the keynote speaker to the Convocation of State Baptists Nov 14 at Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntville, not far from Where Donald Trump made his sonsabitches aside about a month ago in the presence of the UBama LEGEND and Senior Senator, Richard Shelby, and the Episcopalian Luther Strange.

      Steve Bannon is on the Ground in Bama for Roy Moore and unlike Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. Burgess doesn't seem to have a clue what's at stake for the soul of the state.

     On Monday after trump was in the state, Burgess interviewed the impostor on air. Knowing his good friend Cliff Simms of Yellowhammer News is now in the White House and likely set up the interview, Burgess genuflected, or as they say in Bama, pretty much kissed his Ass; quite contrary to his treatment the Spring of 2016 when The head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty group, Russ Moore was on air for a live 15 minute interview.

   Point being Burgess is pretty much a card carrying fundamentalist of a Calvinist bent who don't know his ass from a hole in the ground--to quote Randy Newman on Lester Maddox--when it comes to authentice Baptist ideals of church state separation like Bama Baptist Frank Johnson and Hugo Black. In fact Burgess is a disciple of David Barton and the Christian Reconstructionist movement though Rick probably doesn't know it. He adores Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr; that's how far the Bama SBC has sunk since the fundamentalist takeover of the 80s and early 90s.

     In regard the justice work of Martin Luther King, the distinction between flag worship and patriotism, here is something Burgess most likely has never considered

    This morning a miscreant from Attalla called in to bring Nick Saban's comments on the flag and the NFL, a statement posted the Monday after Trump's flareup and Nick's Heisman winner Derrick Henry was in solidarity with Marcus Mariota, Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, the Titans and the Seahawks. I was at that Game.

     Burgess and Bill Bubba Bussey finally found Saban's Saturday Down South after a month and read it on the air. Nevertheless Rick and Bubba stood by their false equivocations regarding the NAACP here on the Day the new movie about Justice Thurman goes nationwide with the star who played Jackie Robinson.

     Tad Tadlock was campus minister at JSU from 68-81. He left to go to Clemson where he became good friends of Gadsden Alabama native Danny Ford who took Clemson to the National Title that year.

     Tadlock is eager to be on a panel at JSU with Rick Burgess this fall before the Bama Senate playoff between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. Hopefully if it takes traction, JSU Alum Glenn Browder, a former sensible US Congressman from East Alabama will be on the dais with them and some female yet to be determined.

    As Hamilton said: "Wait on it!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Summer of 1967, Wedding Anniversary, Camp Ney A Ti and the last White year at Gaffney High

         Wave of nostalgia and memory has overwhelmed me trying to place my history on the timeline of the evolving events of the Vietnam War Ken Burns PBS series. Yesterday on the front porch some history fell out on the concrete as my cat had been whittling away at a box for about a month now.

    It was the obituary book for my Grandmother Mary Alice Helton Fox and Papa WD Shorty Fox. But it was the Anniversary Book that overwhelmed me. There were tributes by all their six children and several grandchildren including my 14 year old self as of May 18 of that year.

   Eventful year for me. I was a chubby fellow with a big smile finishing the 8th grade. I remember the last day of class as I got out a day early and Ms Frances Clary, my attractive 8th grade social studies teacher walked me into the hall to meet my Dad who had come with the family and car packed to scurry down 85 on the road to Miami Florida for the Southern Baptist Convention.

   I saw Billy Graham and the actor Gregory Wolcott there; maybe Anita Bryant. Saw Billy Gee up close. Walking to the hotel that night past a strip club with the door open and could hear the Baptist Preacher's Daughter Aretha Franklin singing R E S P E C T on the sound system. My Dad told me not to look in there.

      We drove to Rome Georgia in two days and got in late Friday night. I had to stop on the Kingston HWY cause my 7 Krystal hamburgers in Marietta started talking to me about 7 miles before Nanny and Papa's facilities on Morrison Campground Rd. The next day was the anniversary.

    I am gonna post some of the tributes at the Helton Family History site. Distant Cousin Brad Fullington, a first Cousin of the Colorado Rockies Great Todd Helton, who was Peyton Manning's backup at UTenn, is running for US Congress. So this Family history is going straight to Congress as Brad frequents that board.

      Late July I of 67 I was on a bus at 7 am in Spartanburg SC to go to Camp Ney A Ti representing Gaffney SC with my friends Cleve Hamrick, Mike Frances, Tom Jones and myself. Frances died two years ago. He was a character. Cleve was the Little league Homerun King who evolved into a golfing force in High School, still a challenge in his 60s on the courses of Cherokee County and Tom Jones had a run as class presidents and Student Body President our Senior year.

   Raised strong Baptist, he became a Catholic and his Brother Latter Day Saint.

   In August I was marching 6 to the five for the Gaffney High Band. Military style like Texas A and M. The next year we integrated and I was doing the Granard High Step with my eyes darting at the great legs of --will have a name for you soon, one of the prettiest colored girls I had ever seen. She caught me lookin a couple times and said Martin didn't die so you could gander.

     But that was a year away.

    8th grade was a transition and the memories were overwhelming yesterday on the porch.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Devil is On the Ground in Bama

     This Blog will be a work in progress the next couple days. Read again later in the week for revisions and extra mustard.

      Lincoln had to navigate the Know Nothings in 1850s. Alabama is Lincoln Da Ja Vu all over again in the special election for US Senate between Roy Moore and Doug Jones; and the Devil is having a field day with his arc angel Steve Bannon and his congregation of Yellowhammer News network of Baptist Church of the Highlands, FBC Gardendale, Rick Burgess of the Rick And Bubba show who deceives young virgin interns from Samford and other fundamentalist stripes who are clueless about authentic execution of Baptist ideals of Baptist Separation of Church and State.

   Nick Saban's St Francis Catholic Church is at risk in Tuscaloosa Alabama not to mention the legacy of Atticus Finch (created by a Methodist) and the great Baptists Judge Frank Johnson (a Lincoln Republican) and Hugo Black the Supreme Court Justice.

   But how can you expect the state to do the right thing when the leadership of the Alabama Baptist Convention is struck mute even in the wake of the fiasco, debacle of the Phoenix Alt right resolution in Phoenix last summer; not to mention nothing learned from Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham Jail 50 years ago?

     Your Average Baptist is no more prepared for Roy's Rock in the US Senate, the Salafist wing of the evangelical tradition in America, than they were for King in the 60s. They voted for Wallace in 63 and I'll be Damned if they aren't likely to vote for Roy Moore in Dec 2017

     The question is in addition to the SBC leadership in Bama is the progtessive wing, The congregation of FBC Auburn, the CBF of Alabama and their ecumenical friends among the Methodists; have they read Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green or even the nybooks dot com review. Do they have a conversational knowledge of Hillary Clinton's magnificent unflinching naming the Bannon infidel  cabal in her NPR Fresh Air interview of last week.

   Will Doug Jones have the presence of mine to master the themes of Hochschild's National Bk Award finalist Strangers in their Own Country and make authentic appeals to the White Working Class in Bama that feel like others have jumped in line in front of them.

    Hillary Clinton should be president now. She made some mistakes she has conceded. Will Jones and his messaging folks learn from Clinton missteps and Hochschild?

    Baptist Preacher's son Cliff Simms the creator of Yellowhammer News is now in the Trump White House. Rick Burgess interviewed Trump live on air last Monday the day before the Strange/ Moore Runoff.

    Will the good folks at Auburn University Living Democracy Project and the Dave Matthews Center in Montevallo make this plain. Will the Honors Program at UBAMa tell their students about Judge Frank Johnson and Hugo Black say by Mid November so they can talk about it with their families over Thanksgiving. Will the Baptists in Montgomery who owe their salaries to the tithes and offerings of Trump's base on Sand Mountain and the Wiregrass tell people what they know in their hearts is at stake with Roy Moore, a man at odds with the church state views of the Grand George W. Truett, the greatest Baptist of the first half of the 20th Century.

    Will the Sorority sisters at Bama and Auburn call in WYDE and Tell Michael Hart and his snarky side kick Jessica  and then my friend Gomer Scott Beason this is not a single issue vote on abortion, but the ethics or gerrymandering and Trump's Huntsville Sonsabitches statement come in to play for the extended families of the mostly people of color they champion every Saturday on Game Day in the SEC?

     There is a plaza at Ole Miss named for Jesus Christ Disciple Will D. Campbell. He called the Moore, Yellowhammer News, Steve Bannon Cabal "soul Molesters" . Are what passes for Christians in Alabama still able after all the pounding obfuscation of Fox News these last twenty years still able to recognize soul molesters when they see em and does the leadership of the B ama Baptist convention have any desire or capacity to help them Discern?

     In the early summer of 1931 Dietrich Bonhoeffer drove through Alabama on Ole US HWY 11. At Union Divinity School in NYC he had befriended Frank Fisher, then son of the pastor of the 16th Street BC in Birmingham. Two years before Trump fumbled into the US Presidency, Pulitzer's Marilyn Robinson framed this moment in America, crystallized now in Alabama in her biblically proportioned essay Memory in the Collection Givenness of Things on the legacy of Bonhoeffer and the similarity of 30s Germany to post Obama America.

    I cant think of any excuse Rick Lance, Bradley Byrne and Richard Shelby could call upon not to go to a local Barnes and Noble and spend 15 minutes with that divine essay.

    October 5. Look for opinion piece in Washington Post coming soon by Randall Balmer of Dartmouth on Roy Moore as anathema to historic and authentic Baptist ideals on church state separation.

    And this piece from RD dot org

        Read Harold Bloom in the American Religion on Baptist Fundamentalism as a latter day Know Nothing party
   And Like her or not, Hillary Clinton nails the sobs who put Trump in office in the second segment of this grand interview on NPR Fresh Air re her book What Happened. Pay particular attention to the Q and A sequence after the notice Ramilies on the Soundtrack during a break of the on air interview