In the season finale, we talk to Roy Peter Clark about The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968, John Lewis, and Roy sings to Gramel!
More from Roy!
“This book could change your life, not only changing the status, it was very, very poignant, and made you really think, and I cried.” — Gramel
“He made history come alive, in a Down to Earth way a daily, day, by day way. You just didn’t want to stop you wanted to read the next article, the next column, once I got rolling in that it was really hard to stop and take a break, go eat or take the dog out or anything like that.” — Gramel
“I graduated in the 60s. And by 1961, I had a child in 22 months later another child. So a lot of this I mean, I knew of it all. But when you’re newly married and raising babies, you know, you don’t immerse yourself in them like I do now and politics. So I found, I was very grateful for the book.” — Gramel
“I was hired by Jim Patterson in 1977. I was living in Montgomery, Alabama at the time I was teaching from New York. But I got my first teaching job in the south. And I got to meet some Southern progressive editorial writers.”
“So every single day, and this includes on fishing boats, wherever you happen to be, Gene was writing his 800 900 words. I read, I felt like a privilege, I read every single one of them more than 3000. That was the source material.”
“For me ,language moves up like to the top given my interest. I’m interested in words and wordsmiths and, and how people solve problems in their writing, how they create a voice, and what’s most interesting and authentic in their work.”
“Gene could write with criticism of white Southern racism, with a tremendous the passion of, you know, an Old Testament prophet, he could do that. But that wasn’t his primary move. His primary move was conciliatory. And so what you see time and again, is him shining a light on individual, small groups of white Southerners who are evolving towards racial and racial justice.”
“One reason to invoke the past is to be inspired and hopeful by the ways and the ways in which things did change for the better, or, if not permanently, the possibility of changing for the better. And I think that’s the kind of writer that Gene was.”
“Journalism is already facing two, existential crisis. The first I would argue, is, is a problem of resources, based on the collapse of the traditional business model of news brought about by technological change, most powerfully, the internet. So the question of who is going to pay for good journalism? Is there even going to be a newspaper in some locations, in some cities Are they gone was look as local news going to disappear. So that’s crisis, number one, crisis number two, our attempts by political partisans to undermine the credibility of news and to decertify and devalue the work that journalists do. So to ask them, to then ask journalists to become the leaders of a new, revitalized movement towards civil rights and racial equality? It’s a hard thing to ask. But I’m certainly proud of the work that I’m seeing around the country, done by journalists, of all different ethnicities and backgrounds on everything we’re going through right now, from an endemic in the recession, to social protests.”