Becoming Southern Writers
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Edited by southern historians Orville Vernon Burton and Eldred E. Prince, Jr., Becoming Southern Writers pays tribute to South Carolinian Charles Joyner's fifty year career as a southern historian, folklorist, and social activist. Exceptional writers of fact, fiction, and poetry, the contributors to the volume are among Joyner's many friends, admirers, and colleagues as well as those to whom Joyner has served as a mentor. The contributors describe how they came to write about the South and how they came to write about it in the way they do while reflecting on the humanistic tradition of scholarship as lived experience.

The contributors constitute a Who's Who of southern writers—from award-winning literary artists to historians. Freed from constraints of their disciplines by Joyner's example, they enthusiastically describe family reunions, involvement in the civil rights movement, research projects, and mentors. While not all contributors are native to the South or the United States and a few write about the South only occasionally, all the essayists root their work in southern history, and all have made distinguished contributions to southern writing. Diverse in theme and style, these writings represent each author's personal reflections on experiences living in and writing about the South while touching on topics that surfaced in Joyner's own works, such as race, family, culture, and place. Whether based on personal or historical events, each one speaks to Joyner's theme that "all history is local history, somewhere."


Raymond ArsenaultJack BassOrville Vernon BurtonDan CarterRichard CarwardineWalter B. EdgarDavid Hackett FischerWilliam W. FreehlingRod GraggJosephine HumphreysJohn C. InscoeHank KlibanoffRobert KorstadDaniel C. LittlefieldValinda LittlefieldHayes MizellDavid Moltke-HansenMaggi M. MorehouseJohn J. NavinJames PeacockEldred E. Prince, Jr.Theodore RosengartenDale RosengartenJohn A. SalmondRoy TalbertNatasha TrethewayAnne M. Wyatt-BrownBertram Wyatt-BrownWilliam Ferris



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Date de parution 15 mai 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611176537
Langue English

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Becoming Southern Writers
Southern Writers
Essays in Honor of Charles Joyner

Edited by
Orville Vernon Burton and Eldred E. Prince, Jr.
This festscrift in his honor is, of course, dedicated with great respect and affection to Charles Joyner .
2016 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press Columbia, South Carolina 29208
25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at
ISBN 978-1-61117-652-0 (cloth) ISBN 978-1-61117-653-7 (ebook)
Front cover photograph:
Down by the Waterside: Family, Identity, and Maritime History
Raymond Arsenault
How Charles Joyner Changed My Life
Jack Bass
Stranger Redux
Orville Vernon Burton
Becoming a Southern Historian
Dan Carter
About the South
Richard Carwardine
It Wasn t in the Plan
Walter B. Edgar
The Maryland Design: Toward the Cultural History of a Border State
David Hackett Fischer
Balance, Schlesinger, and Chaz Joyner
William W. Freehling
Southern History as Family History
Rod Gragg
Fiction, History, Murder, and the Book of Truth
Josephine Humphreys
Feeling Awful Southern . . . or Not?
John C. Inscoe
Writing the South in Fact
Hank Klibanoff
Curing My Historical Schizophrenia
Robert Korstad
Down Home
Daniel C. Littlefield
Researching and Writing Southern History from Close Encounters
Valinda Littlefield
Hayes Mizell
When Does a Microscope Become a Telescope or a Telescope a Microscope?
David Moltke-Hansen
Shared Traditions
Maggi M. Morehouse
A New England Yankee Discovers Southern History
John J. Navin
James Peacock
A Personal Odyssey: Discovering Local History
Eldred E. Prince Jr .
The Philosophy Shop, Part I
Theodore Rosengarten
The Philosophy Shop, Part II
Dale Rosengarten
A New Zealander Becomes a Southern Historian
John A. Salmond
Chaz Joyner at Coastal: Bargain or Burden?
Roy Talbert
The Soul Sings for Justice: Why I Write about the South
Natasha Trethewey
An Accidental Scholar
Anne M. Wyatt-Brown
C. Vann Woodward and Me
Bertram Wyatt-Brown
Charles Joyner: A Photographic Homage
William Ferris
Publications by Charles Joyner
The conference to honor Charles Joyner, and where these essays originated from, was made possible through the generosity of the Humanities Council of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University s Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, department of history, and offices of the executive vice president and university relations. Coastal Carolina s Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies and the Clemson University Cyber Institute contributed both to the conference and the production of this book. The editors want to especially thank history department administrator Stephanie Freeman, Georganne B. Burton, and Alice Burton Traetto for help with the conference organization, administration, and transporting speakers. University of South Carolina Press director Jonathan Haupt and editor Alex Moore championed this project from the beginning. The anonymous reviewers made this a better book. The editors greatly appreciate all the work and effort on behalf of this book by the University of South Carolina Press s assistant director of operations, Linda Fogle, marketing director Suzanne Axland, and editorial assistant Elizabeth Jones. Beatrice Burton compiled the index, and we especially appreciate her keen eye for catching errors and rectifying other problems.

I suspect that most of us, at least by a certain age, feel an urge to rake the leaves of our lives into a single pile.
Charles Joyner, Comrades and Confederates: Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
This volume of essays in honor of Charles Joyner, affectionately known by some of us as Chaz, gathers the work of scholars, novelists, and poets of the American South-only a few of his extensive network of colleagues across the academic spectrum on several continents. Most of the contributed essays to this volume relate their writers experiences of engaging the American South, whether exclusively or occasionally.
Joyner s career is not easy to summarize because, to employ one of his own phrases, it stubbornly resists synthesis. 1 Charles Joyner has lived in the South most of his life-writing, teaching, and lecturing on southern history from slavery and the Civil War to segregation and the civil rights movement, from politicians and generals to rebels and reporters; southern literature from William Faulkner to William Styron, Julia Peterkin to Natasha Trethewey; southern folk culture from tales and legends to music and material culture; and southern music from ballads to blues, spirituals to classical, country and bluegrass to rock and jazz. Much of his work has explored what he has described as pursuing large questions in small places. He has pursued some of the most important questions close to his home, such as the influence of folk culture on the civil rights movement on Johns Island, the influence of assimilation on identity in the Jewish community of Georgetown, and the emergence of Gullah culture in the slave communities along the Waccamaw River.
His father, Winston Joyner, was a Mississippian who was mustered out of the U.S. Marine Corps in Charleston and stayed on to work for the South Carolina Highway Department. He met Kelly Paul, a native of the Bucksport area of Horry County, while he was helping build the first paved highway between Conway and Georgetown. They married in 1930, and Charles, the first of their six children, was born in 1935. He grew up all over the state, upcountry and lowcountry, experiencing both South Carolina s beauty and diversity.
The family moved to Mt. Pleasant during World War II. Joyner vividly recalls his visits with Petrona Royall McIver, local historian there. She inspired him with her stories about the Gullah people and the sweetgrass baskets they made and sold along U.S. 17. She explained how their language had influenced the lowcountry accent. For the first time, Joyner heard about the cultural intersection of three continents-Europe, Africa, and North America.
The Joyners moved to Myrtle Beach, in his mother s home county of Horry, in 1947. The family liked the Grand Strand, and his father accepted a job there as superintendent of the Street and Sanitation Department. Myrtle Beach offered plenty of summer jobs for a clever lad willing to work hard. At the age of thirteen Charles worked in the print shop of the Myrtle Beach News . At fourteen he got his driver s license and a job driving a dump truck. In his senior year of high school, he worked for a new real estate and investment company. Creating a card file from public records gave him valuable research experience. The income from these jobs enabled him to become the first of his family to graduate from college.
After graduating from Myrtle Beach High School in 1952, Joyner entered Presbyterian College, in Clinton, South Carolina, where his history professor, Newton Jones, invited him to join him on research trips to the South Caroliniana library at the University of South Carolina. That was where Chaz learned that history is more than just interesting stories of famous people. His research paper on Henry Woodward won the Frank Dudley Jones History Award at commencement, when he graduated in 1956 with a double major in English and history.
In the fall of 1956, Joyner entered graduate school at the University of South Carolina under the tutelage of Howard Quint and the visiting professors John Roberts from Oxford and William Best Hesseltine from the University of Wisconsin. After completing the master s degree, Joyner was inducted into the army in 1958. He was assigned to the Historical Office of the Army Chemical Center at Edgewood, Maryland, where he was part of a team researching and writing a multivolume history of the Chemical Corps during World War II.
Completing his active duty in 1960, Joyner returned to the University of South Carolina to pursue a doctorate. There he studied with visiting professor Avery Craven from the University of Chicago, who supervised his seminar paper on southern reaction to John Brown s raid. Robert Ochs supervised his dissertation, a study of John Dos Passos s participation in World War I and the impact of that historical experience on his literary achievements.
Joyner shared an apartment at 1015 Henderson Street with fellow historians Selden Smith, a close friend since 1956, and new friends Hayes Mizell and Dan Carter (whose reminiscences of the period appear in both of their essays in this volume). The four shared more than a house. It was the early 1960s, and cracks were appearing in Columbia s great wall of segregation. The Henderson Street historians were committed to widening those cracks. Their efforts were noticed. A friend working as a page in the governor s office told them that he had seen their photographs on the governor s desk.
Life is often marked by trial and uncertainty, and Joyner has shown wisdom, courage, and strength in the most trying of times. In 1963 Charles married Jeannie Dusenbury, a Myrtle Beach native and a Columbia College graduate. It helps to have a partner and soul mate, and one of the best and wisest decisions Joyner ever made, and clear evidence of his discernment and insight, is his marriage to Jeannie. In the same year he accepted a teaching position at Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, North Carolina. During his two years there he formed friendships with George Melton, a scholar of modern France, and with visiting speakers John Hope Franklin, Arthur Link, and Willie Lee Rose. He then spent a year teaching at the University of Tennessee at Martin. These experiences reinforced his understanding of the great variety of cultures within the South.
Joyner returned to North Carolina in 1966 to teach in the innovative team-taught interdisciplinary core program Christianity and Culture at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg. It was an appointment that would last fourteen years. He soon became director of the junior-year American Experience team, comprising history, political science, literature, theology, and sociology. That experience was an education for students and faculty alike. He and friend George Melton, who came to St. Andrews during Joyner s second year, occasionally teamed to combine American and European history in such courses as The Twentieth Century and Comparative Revolutions. In St. Andrews s winter term, each student took one course, which could be taught anywhere. Joyner took students to Columbia to research African American history in primary sources at the South Caroliniana Library and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Their papers were compiled and bound in copies for the host institutions as well as for the St. Andrews library and for each student.
A deepening interest in folklore and folk culture led Joyner into fieldwork on both sides of the Atlantic, and in 1974-75 he invested a sabbatical year at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a second doctorate in the Department of Folklore and Folklife. Jeannie Joyner later joked that it was the only discipline that paid less than history. There, he studied cultural anthropology with Anthony F. C. Wallace and sociolinguistics with Dell Hymes, greatly broadening the theoretical base of his historical analysis. Charles Joyner has expanded each discipline by sharing insights from the other. From then until 1980 he held a joint appointment in history and anthropology at St. Andrews.
In 1979-80 Joyner was a visiting professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, serving alternate semesters in the Departments of History and Anthropology. In 1980 he joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina s regional campus in Horry County, Coastal Carolina College (Roy Talbert s reminiscences of Joyner s early years at Coastal are included in this collection). Not only was the college near his boyhood home in Myrtle Beach and both his and his wife s families, it was also near the site of his research interest, slavery on the rice plantations of the lower Waccamaw River in Georgetown County. This helped him bring his study to fruition in 1984. Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community was published as part of August Meier s Blacks in the New World series by the University of Illinois Press.
Accolades soon followed. The book was awarded the National University Press Award as the best book in the humanities published by a university press in 1984. The response of the academic community to the new publication was swift and positive. For example, George P. Rawick, editor of the magisterial The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography , called Down by the Riverside the finest work ever written on American slavery. 2 Although Charles Joyner was already well known within southern history circles, the book s reception made him a name.
Down by the Riverside set in motion a series of visiting appointments at some of the nation s prestigious universities. In 1986 Joyner was invited to fill Kenneth Stampp s chair at the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed a friendship with fellow visiting professor Steven Ambrose and deepened old ones with Lawrence Levine and Leon Litwack. The following semester, William Ferris invited Joyner to serve as Ford Foundation Professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, teaching a seminar for Ole Miss graduate students and directing a monthly seminar for teachers in southern studies at universities in the Deep South. This appointment was followed by a tenured appointment in the History Department at the University of Alabama.
While in Tuscaloosa, Joyner was lured back to Coastal Carolina by the offer of an endowed professorship. The Burroughs Chair in Southern History and Culture was funded in 1988 by local businessman Henry Buck Burroughs in honor of his parents, Franklin Augustus and Iola. Shortly after Chaz s return, the Waccamaw Center for Historical and Cultural Studies was created. During the seventeen years that Joyner directed the center, it engaged in research and dissemination of studies in southern history and culture, with a special emphasis on studies of the Waccamaw Region of South Carolina. This was achieved through publications, public presentations to local community groups and national and international professional meetings, television productions and appearances, lecture series and symposia here and elsewhere, and by encouraging and supporting research in southern and local history and culture by colleagues and local scholars.
Joyner s return to Coastal Carolina University as Burroughs Distinguished Professor and director of the Waccamaw Center began a golden age in his career. The resources of the Burroughs Chair made it possible for Joyner to disseminate the findings of his research to scholars around the world. With his international profile, extensive networks, funding sources, and the Grand Strand s appeal as a venue, Joyner had the means to host conferences bringing novelists, poets, and journalists as well as historians from Europe, Asia, and Australia to the campus. A few of the many noteworthy conferences included Pursuing Large Questions in Small Places in 1989, BrANCH (British American Nineteenth Century Historians) in 1999, and Southern Writers of Fact and Fiction in 1996. The latter conference reflects Joyner s love for literature. He even took a cognate in literature for his Ph.D. in history at the University of South Carolina and continued to give papers and publish articles, essays, and book introductions on such writers as William Faulkner, Julia Peterkin, John Dos Passos, William Styron, and Ernest Hemingway. Through the years, conference participants included the contributors to this volume as well as prize-winning writers such as novelists Ellen Douglas, Dori Sanders, Elizabeth Spencer, and William Styron; poet Nikky Finney; literary scholars Fumio Hayashi and Tao Jie; sociologist John Shelton Reed; journalist Edwin M. Yoder; and historians Tony Badger (master of Clare College, Cambridge), Drew Gilpin Faust (now president of Harvard), Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Winthrop Jordan, William McFeely, and C. Vann Woodward.
In the 1990s Joyner assumed a greater leadership role in the historical profession. In 2000, he was elected to a three-year term on the executive council of the Southern Historical Association. After completing his term, Joyner was elected vice president for 2004 with an automatic promotion to presidency of the association in 2005.
At the 2005 annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association, Joyner began his presidential address with personal memories of watching shaggers dance to the jukebox at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion as a teenager. He continued through impressionistic descriptions of the development of folk, popular, and country music, spirituals and gospel music, blues, bluegrass, jazz, and freedom songs. In his closing section he observed that out of old remembered hymns and ballads, spirituals and blues, marching cadences and ragtime rhythms, men and women of all colors and great talent created a distinctive southern music. By revealing the authentic connections between past and present, between black and white, and between the region and the world, Joyner concluded, southern music offered the promise of a world in harmony, a world to which the Southern past can offer illumination and perhaps even a few notes of hope. 3
Since his retirement from Coastal Carolina University in 2007, Joyner has continued to publish and to participate in the Southern Historical Association. Although Down by the Riverside had never gone out of print, the University of Illinois Press published a twenty-fifth anniversary edition in 2009. Joyner s new introduction revisits how the book came about and reflects on changes in the area and in Gullah culture since the book s original publication in 1984. This powerfully influential work was also revisited in a session that November at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association: Creolization in and Beyond Charles Joyner s Down by the Riverside . In 2011 the University of Georgia Press published a new edition of his Remember Me: Slave Life in Coastal Georgia with enhanced illustrations and a new introduction. 4
In April 2011 the South Carolina Academy of Authors inducted Joyner into its Literary Hall of Fame. In December, Coastal Carolina University dedicated the Charles Joyner Reading Room in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. The following year Coastal awarded Joyner its first University Medallion at Founders Day Ceremonies.
Throughout his career Charles Joyner has drawn upon the shared traditions of southern folk culture and the sense of place in southern literature to enrich his understanding of southern history. Pursuing what he calls large questions in small places, he has drawn upon anthropological and linguistic theory to help him understand culture change, but theory is always subject to the test of evidence. Joyner has a poetic style that is most unusual, and he reaches a level of psychological and cultural depth that should be the envy of us all.
Joyner has an impressive publication record, but it is the quality of his research and writing that makes him outstanding, not the heft of his work in printed pages. His accomplishments in cultural American and southern and African American history have had an impact across the country in history graduate programs. Joyner s critical skills, his original and innovative perspective on cultural history, his wide knowledge of literature, especially southern letters, his talent as a musician and musicologist, his expertise in folklore (with a doctoral degree in that subject as well as in history), his rapport with and understanding of the African American experience-all these factors place him in a league by himself.
Joyner has influenced the historiography of the South in two major ways. The first is the strong transdisciplinary perspective found in all his work. An accomplished folklorist as well as historian, throughout his career Joyner has combined insights gleaned from these disciplines to his research and writing. His professional training in folklore and history is complemented by his knowledge of southern literature and his understanding and appreciation of folk music, which also informs his written work. He explores the interconnection and mutual borrowing in the popular music genres from rock to blues, from country to jazz, by which a biracial society overcame inherent tensions in developing a tradition of unique southern voices in song. One of the purposes of Down by the Riverside is an effort to recreate the emotional texture of slave life-the dreams and hopes, the illusions and anxieties. 5 Maybe one of the reasons Joyner loves songs is that they elegantly capture the emotional textures of the times and the lives, the protests, and the hopes of lesser-known southern heroes. The result has been a series of monographs, essays, and presentations that have consistently urged the audience to consider the people who made the history they are exploring, to better understand the human motivations that produced the actions of a particular group at a given time.
Joyner s second major influence has been his quiet insistence that major historical issues can be profitably examined from focusing tightly on the activities of people in small places, a county, or a region of a state. His body of work is a testament to the insights about the entire South such studies of geographically small places can provide.
Also, throughout his career Joyner has labored diligently to bring history to audiences outside the humanities. He has done so by working closely with state humanities councils throughout the South and by participating in numerous historical programs designed for general audiences and conducted by a variety of other agencies and institutions. More especially, as the Burroughs Professor at Coastal Carolina University, Joyner produced public programs that brought to the region some of the leading scholars of the South s history, literature, music, and folklore. Throughout his career, he has been an exemplary model of the academic historian who has remained engaged with the larger public, a relationship that has contributed to his research and writing and informed thousands, both in this country and abroad, of his region s history. His international academic exchanges have broadened his perspective on his native South, but he is still guided by the African proverb he cites as the epigraph for Down by the Riverside: However far the river flows, it never forgets its source.
One press editor, with whom we completely agree on this point at least, has described Joyner as the nicest and most decent person in the history profession. It has been said that nice guys finish last, but this is not true for Charles Joyner. He has been a winner since before the game even started. In this world, where most of us make a living by what we get, Joyner has made a life by what he gives to others. He probably has more friends in the history profession than anyone. The contributors included in this volume have built special relationships with Joyner and wanted to share their memories to honor a great historian and wonderful person. Essays appear alphabetically by author name except for William Ferris s photo essay.
Raymond Arsenault explores his and Chaz s lifelong love of water and comments upon the importance of water in history. He recounts some family history and celebrates the watery exploits-some heroic, others tragic-of his seagoing ancestors. Arsenault s Florida childhood often involved the Atlantic s more benign pleasures-swimming and surfing. After departing the Sunshine State for a decade-long sojourn in Massachusetts and Minnesota, Arsenault was only too happy to relocate his family to St. Petersburg in 1980. There he resumed his acquaintance with sun and surf. Arsenault and Joyner bonded in the 1980s when both were advisors on Jack Bass and Thomas Terrill s telecourse for South Carolina ETV, The American South Comes of Age . They have shared lectures at each other s campuses and participated in each other s conferences, as well as conversed over good meals at meetings of the Southern Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Southern Intellectual History Circle.
Jack Bass delivers a biographical sketch that begins with growing up in a Jewish family in the small town of North, South Carolina. It includes his four-decade relationship with Charles Joyner and describes the evolution of Bass s career, first as a journalist and subsequently as an author and historian whose work has focused on the evolving political history of the American South. Joyner remembers that he was influenced by Bass s powerful antisegregation editorials in the University of South Carolina student newspaper, the Gamecock , in the mid-1950s. Bass and Joyner met in the early 1970s, when Bass discussed Joyner s book Folk Song in South Carolina in his book Porgy Comes Home . They have been close friends ever since, both in South Carolina and during Bass s years at the University of Mississippi.
After teaching southern history for thirty-four years at the University of Illinois, Orville Vernon Burton has returned home to Ninety Six, South Carolina. In Stranger Redux he revisits a theme developed in his autobiographical essay for a volume edited by John Boles, Shapers of Southern History (where Charles Joyner and Dan Carter have essays as well) and his SHA presidential address, The South as Other, the Southerner as Stranger. Burton looks back on his years in the academy and wonders whether he can ever rediscover home. Burton recounts the many ways in which Joyner has been a mentor and friend and how their lives and ideas have intertwined over the years. They met when Burton was a student at Furman University in the late 1960s and Joyner spoke to the Southern Student Organizing Committee there. In the 1980s they became close friends, and roomed together at numerous conventions, talking history into early morning hours. Joyner s Down by the Riverside and Burton s In My Father s House Are Many Mansions were featured together as a session at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting in 1987.
In his essay, Dan Carter discusses the factors he believes shaped his professional career. Although he hesitates to draw a straight line from one thing to another, he credits his childhood in rural South Carolina, his political awakening in the early 1960s, and his education from grade school through graduate school with forming him as a teacher and a scholar. Carter grew up on a tobacco farm in Florence County, South Carolina, during the 1940s and 1950s. Toiling in the fields as a youth, Carter learned the dignity of work and apprecation for manual labor. A year as a cub reporter at the Florence Morning News taught Carter to write clearly and vigorously. Indeed, he still describes himself as a journalist masquerading as a historian. As an undergraduate at USC-Columbia, Carter forged lasting friendships with Charles Joyner, Hayes Mizell, and Selden Smith. With his new friends, he took an active part in the early civil rights struggle in South Carolina. Graduate study at Wisconsin and North Carolina introduced him to some of the nation s leading southern historians, setting him on a course he follows to this day.
Richard Carwardine brings a British perspective to southern history. He began his study of the American South in his final year at Oxford by reading the soon-to-become classics of Kenneth Stampp and Avery Craven. As a graduate student at Berkeley in the late 1960s, Carwardine witnessed firsthand the emerging radicalism of the period at its West Coast epicenter. His research focused on antebellum southern religion, exploring the growing alienation of southern denominations from their northern and British counterparts. Carwardine, like other British scholars of American history, has long been fascinated by the otherness of the South and, as a religious scholar, by how southerners resolved slavery and segregation with their professed Christianity and democracy. Joyner s friendship with Carwardine dates to the early 1990s at meetings of the British American Nineteenth-Century Historians. Joyner was fascinated by Carwardine s scholarship on nineteenth-century southern evangelicals. As Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford, Carwardine invited Joyner to speak there. Carwardine s interaction with Joyner s seminar and Carwardine s public lecture at Coastal were high points of Joyner s career.
For Walter Edgar, history was a fallback position. He began his freshman year at Davidson as a premed student, but a head-on collision with organic chemistry sent him searching for a different major. Fortunately for South Carolina historiography, Walter Edgar already loved the past. Growing up steeped in the history of his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, Edgar s grandparents had wrapped him in a cocoon of local lore and thoughtfully provided the narrative and backstory to accompany the bare facts. After graduating with his history degree, Edgar was offered an attractive assistantship at the University of South Carolina, where he completed his master s and Ph.D. degrees. After fulfilling his military obligation, Edgar returned to South Carolina, where he made his life and career. Edgar and Joyner met in the late 1970s at a conference on state and local history at the Newberry Library in Chicago. They became closer friends when Joyner was a visiting professor at the University of South Carolina in 1979-80. Edgar says in the acknowledgements for his book South Carolina: A History (xxi), In 1992 it was Charles Joyner s suggestion to the University of South Carolina Press that led to the contract for this book. During the past five years I have cursed and thanked him-depending upon how the manuscript was progressing at the time.
In his essay The Maryland Design: Toward the Cultural History of a Border State, David Hackett Fischer takes his readers on an extended survey of his native state of Maryland. He discusses Maryland s long tradition of diversity and location-what he calls the meeting of differences and collision of opposites. He touches on the geography, climate, linguistics, land use, and economics, as well as the politics, of his native state. Fischer acknowledges the complexity of religion and race in Maryland s history and recalls conflict and coexistence as old as the colony. Fischer read Down by the Riverside almost immediately after publication, and that began his friendship with Joyner. They exchanged lectures between Brandeis and Coastal several times and enjoyed a great trip with Vann Woodward aboard a narrow-gauge railroad up one of New Zealand s magnificent mountains.
William Freehling muses about his first experience with political correctness in historical studies and beyond, featuring Arthur Schlesinger Jr., his undergraduate mentor. Although Schlesinger believed he championed The Vital Center, Freehling suggests that Schlesinger missed the center altogether. Truly balanced history, as in Charles Joyner s Down by the Riverside , may yet help us find a vital center in our sadly unbalanced politics. Joyner first met Freehling in 1962 when Freehling spent the academic year in Columbia, South Carolina, researching his dissertation in the South Caroliniana Library and South Carolina Archives, with some side trips to the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston. Both young scholars taught in the night school. Freehling had the American survey course; Joyner taught Western civilization.
Southern history often touches family history. Rod Gragg, a native of western North Carolina, was introduced to Civil War history in the 1950s by grandparents relating family lore around the parlor fireplace. Mountain folk were divided in their loyalties, and Gragg had Unionist as well as Confederate ancestors. An important lesson Gragg took from these family narratives was the multidimensional character of history-that the past was lived by real people making their way through difficult times. And we as professional historians are obliged to seek to understand their individual perspectives. Joyner met Rod Gragg when he came to Coastal Carolina in 1980. Gragg is a television producer, hosting Waccamaw People for South Carolina Educational Television, a prolific scholar, and a popular teacher. He is the author of sixteen books on topics in American history, including Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg , which earned the James I. Robertson Award for Civil War history.
As a fiction writer, Josephine Humphreys has a somewhat different approach to history. She does not write formal history but admits to being obsessed with it. She identifies history as her enabler and herself as a history hobbyist. Like many of her generation, Humphreys found high school history classes a tedious litany of generals, battles, presidents, and treaties to be memorized. But she always suspected there was something more-the needs, struggles, and desires of ordinary folks. By the time her children entered college, Humphreys realized that teaching and writing history-especially southern history-had changed. She is happy being a novelist, but she is always looking and listening for the historical theme that is surprising and resonant. As for writing history and writing fiction, both pursuits seek a kind of truth, she says, and the distinctions can blur. At a book signing for Down by the Riverside , Humphries bought a copy, and Joyner bought a copy of her new book, Dreams of Sleep . Ever since, Humphreys has been Joyner s favorite novelist. They have been together on many programs, most notably the panel of southern writers on the Confederate flag controversy that she organized for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston.
John Inscoe explores how people define themselves as southern and what the variables are that shape regional identity. He first draws upon memoirs written by his father, grandparents, and other family members, but finds only limited regional context in their reminiscences. He then turns his analysis to his students at the University of Georgia, in whom he detects a diminishing awareness of what makes them southern and a decreasing ability to articulate what their South entails. Joyner was an early admirer of Inscoe s Mountain Masters and met Inscoe at meetings of the Southern Historical Association and Southern Association of Women Historians. They forged a strong and continuing friendship working closely together when Inscoe became secretary-treasurer of the Southern Historical Association while Joyner was on the council and president.
The transition from journalism to academics was a natural one for Hank Klibanoff. Reared by progressive parents in the (relatively) moderate environment of northern Alabama, Klibanoff sympathized with the civil rights revolution taking place around him in the 1950s and 1960s. He was disturbed by the self-censorship of the Birmingham press at a time when that city was ground zero of the civil rights struggle. Revolted by the violence and inspired by the victims, Klibanoff resolved to become a journalist. He further resolved to tell the truth and to write clearly so that his readers could readily understand what it was all about. Klibanoff taught this philosophy in newsrooms for thirty-six years and now teaches it at Emory University as James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism. Joyner and Klibanoff met at the reception following Joyner s presidential address to the Southern Historical Association in 2005. At the time, Klibanoff was the managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and had come to the SHA with his sister Judy, the wife of Ronald Ingle, then president of Coastal Carolina University. Soon Hank s own book, The Race Beat , won the Pulitzer Prize in history.
Robert Korstad writes that studying the South s past helped cure him of his historical schizophrenia. A child of labor and civil rights activists and at the same time a descendent of old Charleston families, Korstad felt pulled both by the romanticism of the Old South and by the progressive traditions of the New South. Writing southern history with the goal of creating a better future helped him develop a more nuanced and holistic perspective on the region s past. Korstad was one of the coauthors of Like a Family , and Charles Joyner was one of its biggest fans. Joyner s admiration for Korstad s work has grown, especially for Civil Rights Unionism , which won the Sydnor Award, the H. L. Mitchell Award, the Taft Labor History Award, and the Liberty Legacy Award. The two became good friends as their paths crossed often, notably when they both spoke at Vernon Burton s 2003 conference at the Citadel on the civil rights movement in South Carolina and when Joyner served as an advisor to a project that involved Korstad s Duke students with nonprofits in Horry County.
Dan Littlefield recounts his intellectual odyssey, beginning as a high school student in California and continuing through his college years and rounds of graduate study at Johns Hopkins and in London. Along the way, he discusses the changing perceptions of skin color that he observed within African American communities, from his own family and community in California to Uganda and Ethiopia. As the southern population becomes more complex, so does writing its history-especially black history-with the influx of newcomers from the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America. Joyner was influenced by Littlefield s Rice and Slaves , and the two worked together on the documentary film Black Labor, White Rice for South Carolina ETV. Their friendship deepened in 1986 when Joyner was a visiting professor at the University of Mississippi and Littlefield, then at Louisiana State University, was part of a monthly seminar of college and university professors, which Joyner moderated in Oxford. As scholars of slavery, the two have frequently been on the same panels at the SHA and other professional conferences.
In Writing Southern History from Close Encounters, Valinda Littlefield discusses her childhood in a diverse rural community near Durham, North Carolina, in the 1950s and 1960s. She shares stories of strong black women and compassionate whites who recognized something special in the precocious young girl and helped provide useful examples and emotional support in her journey to adulthood. She continues to draw inspiration from her memories of this time and place and the realization that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. She was introduced to Charles and Jeannie Joyner almost thirty years ago via her husband, Dan. As a graduate student at the University of Illinois taking a southern history course with Vernon Burton, she was introduced to Joyner s scholarly works. Joyner s use of place has always resonated with her need to examine ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
In his essay, Hayes Mizell recounts the embryonic stages of what became a lifelong crusade for racial justice. After graduating from Wofford in 1960, Mizell was encouraged by his major professor, the venerable Louis P. Jones, to begin graduate study in American history at the University of South Carolina. Mizell complied largely because he had no idea what he wanted to do. Hoping to attract like-minded acquaintances among his peers, he purposefully placed liberal journals in his dorm room as bait. Fellow history graduate students Charles Joyner and Selden Smith were soon hooked, and enduring friendships began. Mizell officially crossed the line from observer to participant in the civil rights struggle when he and Selden Smith joined several Benedict students at a lunch counter sit-in at Woolworth s in Columbia. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Joyner composed a ballad in their honor. Mizell is one of Joyner s oldest and closest friends. They shared an apartment with Dan Carter and Selden Smith in 1961-62, when they were graduate students in history at USC. All three were involved in the civil rights movement, and they have remained friends over half a century.
Some southernists-students of and writers on the American South-come to their study and representations to right the wrongs of history or to give voice to their people. Some run to the sound of the guns. Some look for heroes or villains. Some wish to understand the forces, trends, or politics shaping events and limiting options in the region. Some want to understand the differences in speech and foodways, thought, and behavior that have long set the South apart, both as an identity and as a problem. David Moltke-Hansen s course and motivation were different, as he explains in his reminiscence of his first history teacher and the morality underlying her instruction: history is the chance, the commitment, and the responsibility to study and seek to understand others, no matter how close to home. Charles Joyner was teaching at St. Andrews when he met Moltke-Hansen and immediately bonded with the graduate student interested in both history and literature in the Southern Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Joyner invited Moltke-Hansen to participate in a conference at St. Andrews in honor of Reynolds Price. Later, when historian George Tindall and the folklorist Dan Patterson asked Joyner to apply to replace the retiring Ike Copeland as director of the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, he recommended Moltke-Hansen.
In Shared Traditions Maggi M. Morehouse recounts her path to Coastal Carolina University. As a young woman, Morehouse left the constraints of her military family and what she perceived as the hostile environs of the South. Resettling in the West, she went to speech classes to lose her Southern accent, then embarked on a career focused around the blossoming technology field in Silicon Valley. Ten years later, bored with teaching how to classes to corporate executives, she enrolled in a community college to discover a more meaningful topic to impart. She completed her B.A. in Political Science, went on to an M.A. in history, and then another M.A. in African diaspora studies, and finally, a Ph.D. in African American studies. Morehouse met Joyner in a bar at the 2010 Southern Historical Association meeting. She told Chaz that she had been awarded an endowment in southern studies originally formulated for Joyner s friend Vernon Burton at the University of South Carolina at Aiken. She discovered a common background she and Joyner shared. Both had spent time at Berkeley-she as a grad student, he as a visiting professor-as a student and colleague of Leon Litwack. Both were studying communities of color. Now the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University, Morehouse likes to style herself Chaz Joyner in heels.
In his essay, John Navin reflects on his growing appreciation for the quiet history of his adopted home in the Carolina lowcountry and discusses his current research on the Charleston Workhouse. In 1738 Charleston s leaders set out to establish a workhouse that would furnish food, shelter, gainful employment, and occasional correction to the city s indigent and disorderly residents. But after the Stono Rebellion, the assembly altered the mission of the workhouse, turning it into a place where physical abuse intimidated African Americans and generated profits for the city. Catering to the needs of the slaveholding minority, the workhouse came to epitomize the inhumanity and violence inherent in a slaveholding culture. Soon after John Navin was hired at Coastal, David Hackett Fischer, who directed Navin s dissertation at Brandeis, told him to sit in on Joyner s South Carolina history class and his Civil War and Reconstruction class. Navin was a good colleague, taking his turn as advisor to Phi Alpha Theta and turning the local chapter into one of the most active in the country-getting Coastal students onto state and national Phi Alpha Theta programs, many of them winning first prizes. Navin and Joyner both cherish the lunches when they discussed history incessantly.
Place is the focus of James Peacock s essay. He first considers Joyner s place in Down by the Riverside , a microcosm of history, race, region, and the confluence of cultural and historical streams. But Peacock s story entails place in other ways. His childhood during World War II saw the family move several times. When his father shipped out for the beaches of Normandy, the Peacocks moved in with his grandmother in Alabama. While the Alabama sojourn lasted only about a year, the place felt like home because extended family was near. Other places Peacock has lived, before and after, did not and do not. The second phase of the story moves from changing places to changing a place. That entails building a global program with a connection to local groundings. Hence, grounded globalism is a simple concept that resonates with the South and with Joyner and his work. Peacock and Joyner established a longtime friendship between an anthropologically minded historian and a historically minded anthropologist in the late 1970s, when Joyner held a joint appointment in history and anthropology at St. Andrews Presbyterian College. The two participated in the Language and Culture conferences organized by Karl Heider at the University of South Carolina, when Joyner was a visiting professor in the anthropology department at USC in the spring of 1980. Peacock put Joyner on the program at the annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society as a commentator on a session featuring Guy B. Johnson. Peacock published the papers in Sea and Land: Cultural and Biological Adaptations in the Southern Coastal Plain (1988).
In his essay A Personal Odyssey: Discovering Local History, Eldred Prince traces his academic journey from Europe to the American South, eventually settling-both literally and historiographically-in a former tobacco field. He credits Charles Joyner and Thomas Terrill with providing the intellectual foundation and academic legitimacy for doing local history. Prince briefly discusses his current study of historical memory of agrarian life in the Palmetto State s Pee Dee region. Based on oral history collected in the 1980s and 1990s, he describes his project as a collective autobiography of a way of life. Prince has been Joyner s student, colleague, chair, and always a valued friend. Joyner first met Prince when he signed up for Joyner s graduate slavery seminar as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. Later, Joyner was a reader on Prince s dissertation. Prince was hired as an assistant professor at Coastal, where Joyner taught. After tenure, Prince served two highly successful terms as department chair. After Joyner s retirement, Prince succeeded him as director of the Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies.
In The Philosophy Shop, Part I, Theodore Rosengarten relates how a graduate seminar on American agriculture evolved into All God s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw , winner of a National Book Award in 1975. The narrative follows Ted and Dale, the woman who would become his wife, to Alabama and explores the story of their relationship with his subject, Ned Cobb. Their sojourn south was partially motivated by their having missed the voting rights drives in Alabama and Mississippi in the early 1960s. Later, the Rosengartens moved to South Carolina and made careers of collecting and publishing Southern history. Joyner had taught Rosengarten s All God s Dangers in a class on oral history at St. Andrews. Rosengarten favorably reviewed Down by the Riverside in the Washington Post . After the Rosengartens moved to McClellanville, South Carolina, and Jeannie and Charles Joyner returned to their hometown of Myrtle Beach in the 1980s, they became friends, visiting each other often, sharing their growing families and current projects.
In the second half of The Philosophy Shop, Dale Rosengarten fills in the colorful background of her family s lives and careers in McClellanville, South Carolina. An outstanding example is the University of South Carolina s Lowcountry Basket Project which began along U.S. 17 and ultimately extended to Senegal and the Smithsonian. Another notable undertaking is the Jewish Heritage Project. Again working with USC s McKissick Museum, Dale developed A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life , which toured the country in 2002-03. She also coedited a book by the same name. Rosengarten consulted with Charles Joyner on her studies of Gullah basketry, which led to her Row upon Row: Sea Grass Baskets of the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Rosengartens Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art . Joyner also worked with the Rosengartens on the advisory panel for their exhibit and book A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life and on the documentary The Baruchs of Hobcaw for South Carolina ETV.
In his essay A New Zealander Becomes a Southern Historian, John Salmond describes how a young journalist from New Zealand, through a series of coincidences, became a historian of the American South. Landing a graduate fellowship at Duke in the early 1960s, Salmond found himself in the right place and time to observe the struggle for civil rights unfolding in Durham and across the South. He also explores his involvement at the local level with that struggle and how it changed his life. Charles Joyner met Salmond in Auckland, New Zealand, on Joyner s first trip down under in 1984. Joyner was participating in the biennial conference of the Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association. Salmond was a Kiwi who taught at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia; and he was president of the association. Joyner was fascinated with Salmond s scholarship on such southern liberals and radicals as Aubrey Williams, Clifford Durr, and Lucy Randolph Mason. Through Salmond, Joyner learned that southern history was quite popular in the antipodes and was able to become mates with most of the historians teaching it. Joyner returned many times over the next two decades for conferences, Fulbright lecture tours in New Zealand, and a visiting professorship in Australia. Joyner brought many of the antipodean historians of the South to lecture at Coastal.
In Chaz at Coastal: Bargain or Burden? historian Roy Talbert relates his former role as a vice chancellor for academic affairs at Coastal Carolina and how he came to hire Charles Joyner at the young institution. While recounting the many blessings that Charles Joyner-by far Coastal s best known scholar-brought to the institution, Talbert reflects on the impact and the intellectual influence Joyner had on his own professional work. When Talbert hired Joyner to come to Coastal Carolina in 1980, he told him the fields were white unto the harvest. Joyner thought it was well-meaning hyperbole, but it may well have been inspired prophesy. Talbert was a supportive provost for Joyner, but once he attained tenure he left administration behind to be an even better colleague, teacher, scholar, and friend.
As a biracial child born in the 1960s, Natasha Trethewey s journey from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Washington as the nation s poet laureate was an odyssey in time and place. Living in Mississippi with her black mother and white Canadian father, Trethewey learned early that various aspects of my existence were often subjects of curiosity or contempt. Trethewey credits her father with planting in her mind the idea of writing. Given her unique point of view, he told her, she had something important to say. And so she does. Her verse and prose seek to recover voices of the marginalized, forgotten, erased, and overlooked. To Trethewey, recording the cultural memory of a people is tending the past, as one might tend a grave. Trethewey read from her poetry at Coastal s annual Celebration of Inquiry in 2008. Even though Joyner was unable to attend, he had read her Native Guard with great pleasure, and e-mailed her, trying to convey how impressed he was with her work. At the annual meeting of the Southern Intellectual History Circle (SIHC) the following February, Joyner recommended Trethewey as keynote speaker at the next meeting, to be held at USC in 2011. Joyner introduced her at the annual SIHC meeting and again at a plenary session at the SHA in Mobile in 2012.
Anne Wyatt-Brown describes her career as an accidental scholar by tracing her circuitous route to tenure. Nothing she had learned at Radcliffe or Johns Hopkins prepared her for her first teaching experience. Many of her students at the recently integrated Baltimore high school were reading seven or eight years below grade level. She recruited black professionals from the community to mentor youth with great success. Moving to Colorado, Wyatt-Brown began her college teaching career. She continued at Case-Western Reserve, where she received her doctorate. As the years passed, she and her husband held teaching positions at several prestigious institutions, and she eventually settled into a linguistics line at the University of Florida. Joyner had become fast friends with Bert Wyatt-Brown and through Bert, Joyner also became a good friend of Anne Wyatt-Brown. Anne attended all the conferences with Bert when he came to Coastal at invitations from Joyner.
As its title implies, Bertram Wyatt-Brown s essay shares reminiscences of his personal history with C. Vann Woodward. He first encountered Woodward s writings while studying at Cambridge University. Recognizing the power and genius of Woodward s prose, Wyatt-Brown entered Johns Hopkins and enrolled in Woodward s seminars the following year. As a graduate student, Wyatt-Brown quickly learned Woodward s consummate skill as a writer did not always carry over into the classroom. As the years passed and Wyatt-Brown matured as a scholar, he came to challenge some of Woodward s theses. But Woodward welcomed these challenges, pleased to remain in the professional eye. Wyatt-Brown was one of Joyner s closest friends from the late 1970s until his death in 2012. They corresponded often when Joyner was trying to put together a panel on history and folklore with the great folklorist Richard Dorson for the Organization of American Historians. Wyatt-Brown was on the program committee, and he wrote Joyner from his office at Case-Western Reserve, where he said the keys on his typewriter were icing up. Since then, Joyner never organized a conference that did not include Wyatt-Brown or publish anything Wyatt-Brown did not evaluate first. Wyatt-Brown was a mentor to his friends as well as to his students.
1 . Charles W. Joyner, Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), xxii.
2 . George P. Rawick, comment on the 25th anniversary edition of Down By the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), back cover. Rawick is editor of The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography .
3 . The address was published as Charles Joyner, A Region in Harmony: Southern Music and the Soundtrack of Freedom, Journal of Southern History 72, no. 1 (2006): 3-38.
4 . A Forum on Creolization in and Beyond Charles Joyner s Down By the Riverside , Historically 19, no. 3 (2010): 20-31; Charles Joyner, Remember Me: Slave Life in Coastal Georgia , 2nd ed. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011).
5 . Joyner, Down by the Riverside , 1984 edition, xvii.
This volume is a result of a conference in honor of Charles Joyner, Writing the South in Fact, Fiction, and Poety, hosted by Coastal Carolina University.
Down by the Waterside
Family, Identity, and Maritime History

Raymond Arsenault
I met Chaz Joyner in the summer of 1982, when we were both serving as consultants for South Carolina Public Television s The American South Comes of Age project. During my first evening in Columbia, he picked me up at my hotel and drove me to dinner. Amazingly, by the time we arrived at the restaurant I felt as if we were old friends. Drawn to Chaz s engaging intellect, southern charm, and mellifluous voice, I was pleased to discover that he was working on a manuscript tentatively titled Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community . When I inquired about the title, he immediately broke into song, punctuating a familiar melody with lyrics vaguely familiar to me: Gonna lay down my burden, down by the riverside, down by the riverside, I ain t gonna study war no more, no more . . . Here, I thought, was the rarest of academics-a folksy folklorist, intellectually sophisticated but joyously natural. By the time he got to Gonna put down my sword and shield, down by the riverside I was hooked. Later, after listening to a few of his stories about the quirks and complexities of life on the riverside plantations of the Waccamaw lowcountry-a waterlogged topic that intersected with my own interests-I knew I had found a kindred spirit.
We think of water as the stuff of life-a primal combination of hydrogen and oxygen that sustains all living things, that accounts for nearly 70 percent of the human body, and that covers roughly the same percentage of the earth s surface. Obviously, we cannot survive without water. What may not be so obvious, however, is that water is also the stuff of history. As young schoolchildren, we learn about the role of water and irrigation in the rise and fall of ancient empires, and about the exploits of Columbus, Magellan, and other seafaring explorers during the so-called Age of Discovery. And as teenagers we encounter at least some of the transoceanic migrations, epic sea battles, and other struggles over and in water that have helped shape the modern world order. But unless we establish a deeper, more personal bond with the watery past, we may miss the full significance of water as a historical force.
For better or worse, such a bond has always been an important part of my life and career. From early childhood, I have been fascinated by, even obsessed with, the water. And even now, as a middle-aged professor, I will do just about anything to get in it or on it. Water of any type stirs my soul. Salt, fresh, brackish, chlorinated-it doesn t matter. Ocean, sea, gulf, bay, river, stream, creek, lake, pond, marsh, canal, cove, spring, sound, inlet, bayou, estuary, puddle-I love them all. More to the point, when I think about history and the grand scheme of things, or more personally about why I became a historian, my thoughts inevitably gravitate toward the shore and beyond. For me, history, identity, and water will always be a conceptual jumble of closely connected myths and realities. Like the English poet John Masefield, I have no choice but to go down to the sea-again, and again, and again.
A large part of the explanation for this fixation, I am convinced, is familial. On all sides, my family history is a waterlogged tale of fishermen, divers, sailors, and sea captains. Three centuries of Cape Codders dominate my maternal heritage. My hometown of Harwich, Massachusetts, has long been famous for its mariners, and when I was a young boy, my grandmother regaled me with stories of larger-than-life ancestors and other local heroes who lived and died on the sea. Perhaps the most famous Harwich mariner of all, Jonathan Walker, became a national celebrity and an abolitionist hero in 1844 when he was arrested for stealing slaves off the coast of Pensacola, where he had lived since 1837. He was actually trying to ferry four slaves on board his ship to freedom in the Bahamas. After a Florida jury sentenced him to be branded on the hand with the letters SS (for slave stealer), he was immortalized by John Greenleaf Whittier s poem, The Branded Hand, published in William Lloyd Garrison s Liberator in August 1845. The poem ultimately became a staple of underground railroad lore and still had the power to move schoolchildren more than a century later when I encountered it. Indeed, the Walker saga was my first introduction to the Sunshine State.
None of my Cape Cod ancestors was quite as courageous or as celebrated as Walker, but I learned early on that troubled waters definitely constituted a family theme. One illustrious ancestor, George Weekes, a peripatetic eighteenth-century minister who angered Puritan authorities by preaching to the local Indian population and by drawing parishioners away from the more staid ministry of the established local church, became disconsolate after local authorities took away his right to preach. After years of depression, he wandered into the woods and froze to death in a New England blizzard. Equally sobering was the tale of my great-great-grandfather s death at sea in March 1861. The captain of the schooner Amelia Starkey (eerily I would later first live on Amelia Island and then name my daughter Amelia), he and his younger brother Alphonso were on their way back from Jamaica when a savage storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras sent them to a watery grave. On a happier note, another ancestor, Sidney Brooks, an enterprising graduate of Amherst College, established Pine Grove Seminary, the first school of navigation in the United States, in 1844. Later known as Brooks Academy and used for many years as Harwich High School, the imposing white-columned building still stands as a historical museum, less than one hundred yards from where George Weekes was found frozen in the snow. Brooks went on to become a seagoing teacher on the school ship George M. Barnard and deputy U.S. shipping commissioner in Boston during the 1870s, but somehow managed to die of natural causes-and on dry land-in 1887.
All of this was probably enough to convince a young boy that maritime affairs matter, but there was also the mythic influence of my eccentric Norwegian grandfather. Although my mother s father died two years before I was born, he left a trail of personalized Scandinavian folklore that inspired wonder and trepidation. According to family legend, my Norwegian great-great-grandfather was an ex-sea captain and shipping magnate who served as the model for Wolf Larsen, the antihero of Jack London s 1904 novel The Sea-Wolf . On a trip to Norway two years ago I discovered that at least part of this story is almost certainly apocryphal, but I came home with a load of documents about another ancestor-my great-grandfather (the Sea-Wolf s son-in-law)-who gained national fame in the early twentieth century as an actor, vaudevillian, and singer of Norwegian folk ballads and-you guessed it-sea chanteys.
On the other side of the Atlantic, in the maritime provinces of Canada, my father s family sang chanteys of their own, though in a different language. The first Arsenault in the New World was Pierre, a sea pilot who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1671. The generations that followed lived on the windswept shores of the Northumberland Strait, fishing for cod and lobster, until my grandparents and others migrated southward to New England in the early twentieth century. Settling in the old whaling town of New Bedford, my grandfather found work as a deep-bell salvage diver, a dangerous job that helped put him in an early grave. In 1931, at the age of thirty-four, he suffered a fatal heart attack during a lakeside Sunday outing with his family. After swimming out a quarter mile or so to retrieve a beach ball, he collapsed and drowned within a few feet of shore. Neither his wife nor his seven children would ever be sure that this tragedy stemmed from a decade of unsafe and largely unsupervised diving, but suspicions lingered. My father, the oldest at age nine, would never forget the image of his grief-stricken mother helplessly staring out into the dark waters that had just taken her young husband s life. But my grandfather s fate did not stop my father from seeking a maritime life. As a teenager, he worked in a Cape Cod boatyard, building sailing sloops and ketches, and learning to love and respect the sea. In early 1941, he joined the navy and soon found himself on the battleship USS New York convoying freighters across the North Atlantic. Assigned to a photography billet, he chronicled the early months of the undeclared sea war with hundreds of snapshots taken from the bridge of the New York , including an eye-popping photograph of the ship s fourteen-inch guns completely awash in high seas. The foam-filled photograph, which became one of the war s most reproduced images, both fascinated and terrified me as a child.
My father spent most of World War II in the Pacific, island-hopping with reconnaissance units from Tarawa to Okinawa and witnessing some of the fiercest sea battles in modern history. In March 1945 his younger brother Ray, a Marine corporal, was killed on Iwo Jima; three years later, my father named his first child after his dead brother. In 1951, after the onset of the Korean conflict, my father returned to active duty, moving his family to Ocean View, Virginia, near Norfolk. Assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in 1953, he soon left on a yearlong, around-the-world cruise that left his six-year-old son wondering whether his seagoing father would ever return. I remember spending a lot of time waiting and worrying, perhaps in part because the images of my father far away on the high seas were reinforced by weekly television broadcasts of the television series Victory at Sea , the musical theme of which haunts me to this day.
In 1955 he did come back safe and sound, and, as an added bonus, we moved to sunny and exotic Pensacola, the same town that had treated Jonathan Walker so rudely a century earlier. My earliest memories of Florida all involve water: traveling across a terrifyingly narrow bridge to Santa Rosa Island, where I learned to swim; traversing the extraordinary snow-white dunes of the western Panhandle; and, unfortunately, at one point feeling the sting of a Portuguese man-of-war. In 1958 we left Florida for a five-year hiatus in Chincoteague, Virginia; Cape Cod; and Washington, D.C. But in 1963 we moved back to Florida, this time to Jacksonville and Amelia Island s Fernandina Beach. Several years earlier, my paternal grandmother plus assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins had moved to Amelia Island; and I, thanks to the loss of accreditation by the Jacksonville school system, joined them as an impressionable high school sophomore. Living with my grandmother for my last two years of high school, I promptly fell in love with one of America s most beautiful barrier islands. At the time the California invasion of surf culture, peroxided hair, and the Beach Boys sound had taken the island by storm, and, though I never learned to hang ten, or even five, I bobbed in the waves with the rest of the locals, reveling in bikini-filled fantasies and dreams of a carefree life on the beach. Before going off to college in New Jersey, I also found time to float the Ichetucknee with my uncle s scuba diving club and to explore the rivers and marshlands of northeastern Florida, garnering enough memories to make me want to return someday.
Following a decade of graduate work and teaching in Massachusetts and Minnesota, where I encountered enough frozen water to make me yearn for the warmth of the southern rim, I applied for a job at the St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida. As a high school student I had visited the Tampa Bay area twice, but none of these earlier experiences had prepared me for my first aerial view of the bay and surrounding coastline. Having just left a January snowstorm and 10 degree weather in Minneapolis, I could hardly believe my eyes as the plane hugged the seemingly endless coastline and then banked over the wide blue expanse of Tampa Bay. Later, while crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge and after checking into a bayside motel, seductive images of a water world drew me in, gently but inexorably, blunting whatever reservations I had about leaving the frozen Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. Like so many tourists and would-be migrants before me, I was the proverbial fish on the line, hooked and ready to be pulled in and pan-fried. Whatever chance there was to escape disappeared when a campus tour revealed faculty and students playing water volleyball in the outdoor college pool and gave a glimpse of faculty offices overlooking the entrance to Bayboro Harbor. That the offices were located not in an ivy-covered Gothic tower but rather in a converted forty-year-old maritime training school did not faze me. Indeed, in an odd but meaningful way, it added to the charm and attractiveness of the most unusual campus I had ever visited. Six months later, my family and I, sans woolen mittens and snow shovels, headed south in a rented truck to a new life in the Sunshine City by the bay.
That was in August 1980, but the experiences of the last thirty-odd years-including watching my two daughters grow up as Florida water babies -have only confirmed and deepened my initial attraction to the charms of bay and Gulf. From St. Petersburg s incomparable public waterfront to the mangrove shores of Weedon Island, Cabbage Key, and Chokoloskee to the beaches and shallows of Ft. DeSoto, Caladesi, Sanibel, Captiva, Dry Tortugas, and countless other islands, the joy of exploring Florida s watery western edge has brought me spiritual renewal and heightened respect for what Jimmy Buffett has called Mother, Mother Ocean. While I remain a novice at saltwater sailing, the few times I have taken the helm left me begging for more. Plying the waters of inland Florida-by kayak, canoe, and tube-has been less challenging but no less enthralling. Wakulla, Withlacoochee, Chassahowitzka, Kissimmee, Okeechobee, Alafia-these are names that evoke an array of place-bound mystiques of meandering streams, cedar-draped rivers, and heron-filled lakesides.
While it has grown increasingly obvious that human folly and encroachment have placed all of this, including the Florida aquifer, in dire jeopardy, I hope against hope that future generations, human and nonhuman alike, will somehow be allowed to experience and benefit from this fragile and endangered aquatic paradise. If my attachment to the world of water, based as it is in a peculiar family saga, leans to sentimentality and overwrought emotion, my only defense is that I am not alone. On this point of privilege, I trust the words of Herman Melville, the author of Moby-Dick and the greatest of all metaphysical yarn-spinners. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, Melville s Ishmael explains, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. . . . There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings toward the ocean with me.
This is a revised version of an article that first appeared in the summer 2002 issue of FORUM , the statewide magazine of the Florida Humanities Council. It is reprinted with the permission of the Florida Humanities Council.
How Charles Joyner Changed My Life

Jack Bass
Charles Joyner ultimately changed my life, but that life itself began in North, South Carolina, in the western part of Orangeburg County. The winds of time created the circumstances of my growing up in North, the seventh and last child of my forty-five-year-old mother. She had come to the United States at the age of two with her family from Bialystok, Poland, part of the vast Jewish immigration to America following the Civil War.
My father at fifteen crossed the Atlantic in steerage after growing up in Visilashok, Lithuania (then in the Jewish Pale of Settlement imposed by the Russian tsars), where his widowed mother-whom I never knew-operated a bakery.
The apocryphal story is that my father and a first cousin, both in their early twenties, decided around 1910 to go to Charleston, West Virginia. They bought tickets at Penn Station and somehow wound up in Charleston, South Carolina. They learned through Charleston s Jewish grapevine of a landsman-a hometown native-in Sumter, and he set them up in a country store in the nearby hamlet of Pinewood.
A few years later, someone told my father that North was a good town. With a population of some seven hundred, it served as the commercial center for cotton farmers that stretched out in a five-mile or so radius from the town. The Seaboard Railroad ran through the center of North, which was named for John North, who gave most of the land for the town. Along with many of the towns between Columbia and Savannah, North was incorporated when the Seaboard Railroad laid its track in 1892.
My father, Nathan, rented a room in 1913 from one of North s prominent families to become the town s only Jewish resident. He opened his dry goods store, and less than three years later met Esther Cohen on his annual buying trip to New York. A year later, he told friends in North he would return with a bride, and so he did. My father was thirty-one, four years older than Esther, who managed to adjust to the dramatic change from the Brooklyn where she had grown up.
Sports became my primary focus as I got older. As twelve-year-olds, a group of town boys organized a baseball team and played in a league with two teams from Orangeburg and two or three teams from other small towns. Sports also led to my first career in journalism, but my favorite high school course, American history, ultimately led to my late-in-life doctorate at Emory University.
At the end of World War II, my brother Bernie took me to a Columbia Reds professional baseball game and showed me how to keep score. While in the sixth grade, our school superintendent-a first cousin of Brooklyn Dodger starting pitcher Kirby Higby-somehow learned that I knew how to score. That meant compiling all the pitching, batting, and fielding statistics, as well as judging whether to record a close play as a hit or an error. Mr. Higby played third base and had helped organize a new town team that for the first year or two played afternoon games with similar town teams throughout Orangeburg County.
Once the league got going, the daily Times and Democrat in Orangeburg began reporting on the games, and I was assigned to call in game results. As the league expanded a year or two later with night games, the Columbia and Charleston papers also began coverage, and I got paid a dollar for calling in game reports.
As a freshman planning to major in journalism at the University of South Carolina, my contact with the sports department at the State , South Carolina s largest daily, led to a job of taking calls from high school sports stringers and writing three-paragraph briefs for the Friday night football roundup. Later, I covered games.
I also became sports editor, managing editor, and editor for the Gamecock , the student weekly. During my time as editor of the Gamecock , I wrote an editorial essentially supporting the Supreme Court s school integration decision in Brown v. Board of Education , getting only a few direct challenges. Southern opposition to the ruling had yet to fully organize. For two summers before graduating, I had a summer job (what today would be an internship) at the morning News and Courier in Charleston, covering youth league baseball.
With my army draft date coming up, I applied for Naval Officer Candidate School during my final semester. That led to marriage soon after getting my commission. I enjoyed my active duty time, primarily on the West Coast at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego.
During my last year on active duty, I was part of a detachment sent for six weeks to Oceana Naval Air Station at Virginia Beach for an exercise with an aircraft carrier. It allowed a week of leave at the end to visit family in South Carolina. In terms of race, on the surface nothing had changed. Public schools and higher education remained totally segregated. But reporter friends and others clearly saw change looming.
I accepted a job offer at the News and Courier reporting and working the copy desk, where pages were laid out, reporters and wire-service copy was edited, and headlines were written. The pay was eighty-five dollars a week, twenty dollars more than another paper offered. With two children in diapers, I returned to Charleston and the somewhat genteel but firmly segregationist editorial pages. After managing to report a story or two, I knew I wanted to write.
A year later, my college journalism classmate and friend Dew James and I combined our resources-$2,500 in cash, two portable typewriters, and a decent camera-and launched the West Ashley Journal , a suburban weekly.
We produced a strong editorial page, with both of us writing editorials. If either of us disagreed with an editorial written by the other, it would run as a signed column. After the News and Courier once referred to us as a West Ashley weekly, we referred to them as an East Ashley daily.
After two years Dew got a warning from his ophthalmologist that the intensive work and long hours-by that time we no longer worked 110 hours or so a week, but were coasting at just over 80-could lead to blindness. He accepted an unsolicited job offer to become editorial page editor from the Florence Morning News . We parted ways amicably under the terms of our partnership agreement.
A new partner soon brought in from Chicago after our ads in Editor and Publisher appeared to match exercised an option to buy the entire operation, which by then had begun making a decent profit. Within six months he ran it into the ground and disappeared, as did the remaining thirty monthly payments. The one person who was happy when I totally withdrew was my physician.

In North my parents didn t keep kosher at home, but all the meat was either beef or chicken. The Jewish part of my life, however, was quite secondary to growing up with my friends while absorbing small-southern-town culture, including racial etiquette. My father, for example, while driving home six blocks from the store, would stop and provide a lift for a black person who was walking. The protocol, understood by all, was that they would sit in the back seat rather than beside him. A northern visitor no doubt would have found this chauffeur service puzzling.
As did many small-town Jewish merchants in the South, my father provided dressing rooms in the back of the store in which customers could try on clothing. He also did a cash-only business, with only two exceptions. One was a white yeoman farmer with seven children, whom my father had learned to trust fully and who settled up after the cotton harvest. The same qualities applied to the other, the only difference being that he was black.
At the twelve-grade brick school for white children, we learned to judge people more by what they were than by who they were, part of small-town culture. At recess we all easily played together, the town boys and girls and the country children who arrived and departed by bus.

Back to daily newspapering, I worked a year as a reporter for the afternoon Columbia Record after sale of the weekly and found it stimulating. I transferred to the State as a governmental affairs reporter, on the other side of the building. I began covering the legislature, school desegregation cases in federal courts, a Ku Klux Klan rally, and the growing battles over civil rights.
As a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1965-66, I focused primarily on the study of constitutional law. I took a course on American constitutional development with Robert McCloskey in the Department of Government, writing a term paper on James F. Byrnes s year as a Supreme Court justice. In a course on contemporary constitutional issues taught by Archibald Cox in the School of Law, I learned the full significance of the South Carolina NAACP civil rights attorney Matthew J. Perry, a talented and always well-prepared lawyer. A new federal courthouse in Columbia was named for him after he had become a federal judge.
I had already begun covering him as a reporter but learned much more about his full role in litigating a half-dozen other Supreme Court cases. They included Edwards v. South Carolina , a landmark case that overturned convictions of 187 civil rights demonstrators at the State House. It expanded First Amendment protection of the right to peacefully protest unpopular views. South Carolina State College student and future congressman James Clyburn had led the march.
After returning to the State in June 1966 as governmental affairs editor, I mentioned to an upper-level editor that Nieman Fellows often faced a reentry crisis. He told me, Don t worry. All you ll need is a heat shield. For the first time since Reconstruction, the Republican Party fielded a full slate of candidates for all statewide offices in a gubernatorial election year. Democrats retained all offices, but their narrow margins said much.
A few weeks after the November election, I accepted an offer with a 20 percent pay raise (thirty dollars a week) to become Columbia bureau chief for the Charlotte Observer , which published a South Carolina edition. Because of the State s far greater circulation in South Carolina, the choice wasn t easy. The State offered only a ten-dollar weekly raise. And now with three children, I recall being concerned about whether I could afford to buy my eight year-old son a fifteen-dollar sport coat. That pushed me over the line. The Observer also had a far more progressive editorial policy and was widely respected as part of Knight Newspapers, then a major national brand.
Within six months after joining the Observer , I became South Carolina stringer (nonstaff correspondent) for the New York Times and later the Washington Post and Newsweek . Rapid and transformative social, economic, and political change-all of it intertwined-meant a front-row seat to watch history happen. For the next seven years, I regularly reported stories that got national as well as local attention-and for which I received helpful checks. At the 1968 Republican national political convention, I recorded Sen. Strom Thurmond s central role in Richard Nixon s winning the Republican nomination and then in the fall undermining Alabama Governor George Wallace s third-party challenge. I would later tell how Thurmond played the key role in blocking elevation of liberal Supreme Court associate justice Abe Fortas to chief justice.

Until covering what became known as the Orangeburg Massacre, I never had any desire to write a book. At 10:33 P.M . on February 8, 1968, state highway patrolmen firing shotguns loaded with deadly buckshot killed three and wounded at least thirty-eight others on the campus of historically black South Carolina State College. The Associated Press misreported the story as an exchange of gunfire between students and police. Unlike the shooting at Kent State two years later, no dramatic TV footage existed. The story received little national coverage.
I soon realized that this story was too big to tell in a newspaper format. Meanwhile Jack Nelson, Atlanta bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and an exceptional investigative reporter who was gaining national recognition, had obtained access to the medical records in Orangeburg. He revealed that at least 17 had been shot from the side or rear. Some South Carolina officials and editorial writers attacked Nelson s reporting as irresponsible, but evidence at a subsequent federal trial demonstrated that all but two or three received such injuries.
Once the Department of Justice filed criminal charges in federal court, Jack and I agreed to coauthor a book, knowing the full story would come out. We both covered the trial and did substantial additional research.
After a publishing nightmare, The Orangeburg Massacre went out of print for more than a decade. Mercer University Press reissued it in 1984. The 2002 revised edition includes an updated epilogue. All royalties go to a scholarship fund at South Carolina State named for the three students killed. The book has been expanded, including a chapter consisting of an exchange of letters, the first more than two pages long from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to me, citing what he contended were numerous inaccuracies in our book, and my refutation of his erroneous allegations.
For several years, I ve been nudging to get the State of South Carolina to make a formal investigation and report, as Florida did in the early 1990s of the destruction of the virtually all-black town of Rosewood in the 1920s. That investigation led to an outcome that included restitution. In accepting the 2011 Governor s Award in the Humanities, I focused my comments on the importance of the State of South Carolina following that lead.

In hindsight, writing The Orangeburg Massacre began the process of my changing careers. Still with the Charlotte Observer two years later, I wrote Porgy Comes Home: South Carolina after 300 Years . Its 1972 publication in Columbia served as a precursor for The Palmetto State: The Making of South Carolina , a 2009 University of South Carolina Press book coauthored with W. Scott Poole.
Perhaps even more important, Porgy led to meeting Charles Joyner. The book included a page devoted to his Folk Song in South Carolina , which Chaz told me decades later was the first mention of him in a book. Our friendship has never wavered.
In 1973 I took a two-year leave of absence to write The Transformation of Southern Politics , essentially an update of V. O. Key s 1949 classic, Southern Politics in State and Nation . Grants from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations provided support and led indirectly to Walter DeVries as a potential coauthor. Walt, with his extensive experience in government (chief of staff to Michigan governor George Romney) and an experienced campaign consultant, liked the idea. Duke University housed us, and I got a nominal academic title.
We taped 360 interviews of officeholders, capital political writers in all eleven of the former Confederate states, political consultants, and current and former governors ranging from segregationists Orval Faubus in Arkansas and George Wallace in Alabama to such progressives as Jimmy Carter in Georgia, Reuben Askew in Florida, Dale Bumpers in Arkansas, and John West in South Carolina. Other interviewees included two unsuccessful 1974 candidates running for Congress-Bill Clinton in Arkansas and Newt Gingrich in Georgia. One day we did nine interviews with members of Congress, mastering the capital s subway system as we shuttled back and forth between Senate and House offices.
Meanwhile, nascent Republican growth in the South was fully taking root. Much of the early Republican leadership in Mississippi, for example, was moderate, making its primary appeal on economic rather than racial issues. Early Republican governors included moderates Winthrop Rockefeller in Arkansas and Linwood Holton in Virginia, a mountain Republican from a region whose pre-Civil War white settlers grew little cotton, owned few slaves, and opposed secession.
Transformation received great reviews in the New York Times Book Review and elsewhere in the summer of 1976 and for a while got classroom adoptions. It remains in print with the University of Georgia Press.
Meanwhile I felt a need to move in a new direction but was unsure of which way to turn. My friend Eli Evans introduced me to literary agent Liz Darhansoff in New York, set up a lunch with Alice Mayhew, a top editor at Simon and Schuster. She was looking for an author for what became Unlikely Heroes .
I also had begun to think and feel that the one career position that really attracted me in the process of researching and writing Transformation was that of congressman. New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, with whom I had developed a good relationship, told me the story of Jimmy Carter telling a top aide interested in running for mayor of Atlanta: You want it? Go for it. He didn t, but I did, winning a Democratic primary to face an incumbent Republican congressman.
I explained to friends afterward that I took a poll of more than 100,000 people, and 57 percent said I should write the book Unlikely Heroes for Alice Mayhew. I again got grants from Ford and Rockefeller. I became a research associate in the Office of Legal Research at the USC School of Law, which until then had existed as an empty space on an organization chart.
Unlikely Heroes tells the story of a small band of mostly Eisenhower-appointed, Republican judges in the South who took literally their oath to administer justice. Their groundbreaking precedents made the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which stretched fifteen hundred miles across six former Confederate states from Savannah to El Paso, the institutional equivalent of the civil rights movement.
Their rulings created many of the principles on which the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act were based. The Warren Court provided a supportive climate above. And the civil rights movement s nonviolent response to violence, projected by television as a national morality play, created the climate for Congress to act. Although the Fifth Circuit role received little national attention, its rulings expanded Brown v. Board of Education into a broad mandate for racial justice.
After Unlikely Heroes , I directed a five-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and additional grants from Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie to produce a fourteen-hour television course titled The American South Comes of Age . The five host-narrators were all past or future presidents of the Southern Historical Association: Dan Carter, John Hope Franklin, Jacquelyn Hall, Leon Litwack, and George Tindall. Charles Joyner served as an especially valuable member of the advisory committee for the project.
A joint project of USC and South Carolina Educational Television, it involved my conducting videotaped interviews across the South, ranging from Lee Atwater at the White House to Strom Thurmond to the judges of Unlikely Heroes to Arkansas governor Bill Clinton to Congressman Andrew Young, who had served as the top aide and strategist for Martin Luther King Jr. The marketing of the series, unfortunately, left much to be desired.

Meanwhile, I had been invited to attend a conference on civil rights organized by William Ferris, founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and future chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. I had received a call from Joyner, a visiting professor at Ole Miss, who told me of a faculty position coming open in the Department of Journalism. At the conference I met department chair Will Norton, an outstanding journalism educator, and we hit it off.
Chaz coached me on how to negotiate for an appointment at Ole Miss as an associate professor eligible for promotion to full professor and tenure after one year. It all happened. At the end of my first year, I became a summer professor-intern at the Philadelphia Inquirer when it was reaping Pulitzer Prizes under the guidance of Gene Roberts, who had moved there after serving as managing editor of the New York Times . As Atlanta bureau chief for the Times when I went to work for the Charlotte Observer , he had played a key role in my becoming a Times stringer.
That summer I was invited to attend a University of Alabama seminar examining the twenty-fifth anniversary of George Wallace s stand in the school-house door, a charade in which he blocked the entrance of its first permanent black students in defiance of a court order. In a choreographed move, he stepped aside when President Lyndon Johnson federalized the state National Guard, and its commander was ordered to enforce the federal court mandate.
While trying to figure out how to finance the trip, one night over dinner a fellow professor intern suggested that I write a freelance article for the Inquirer s Sunday Magazine on how history will look at George Wallace. It worked. I interviewed several prominent southern historians, including such scholars as Arthur Link and John Hope Franklin.
I also called Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. in Alabama, one of the key figures in Unlikely Heroes . As a federal trial judge, he cast a decisive vote on a divided three-judge panel in 1955 that ended the Montgomery bus boycott and launched the civil rights career of Martin Luther King. A decade later, Johnson issued the order allowing the Selma March. It was during a break in that trial that King described him as the man who gave true meaning to the word justice . 1
Johnson and Wallace had been law school classmates and friends who became bitter enemies when Wallace reacted to Johnson s court order for him to turn over sensitive documents. During his first winning race for governor, Wallace made the judge his prime target for vitriolic campaign attacks. Fully aware of that background, I asked Judge Johnson how he thought history would look at Wallace. I just don t know, just don t know, he said. On an impulse, I said, Judge, I believe that someday I may want to write a biography of you.
Instead of an expected response such as Well, maybe we should give that some thought, he said, Well, I wish you would. I realized that I had become committed. Researching and writing that book, combined with full-time teaching, would consume my next four years.
The following summer I first met with the judge on a Monday morning in his courthouse chambers in Montgomery. At one point he casually asked who was going to edit the book. After I mentioned Alice Mayhew and that she saw it as only a regional book, he mumbled, Jacqueline Onassis would like to edit this book. In those days before cell phones, I got out of the courthouse as fast as I could, crossed the street to a pay phone, and called my agent, Ron Goldfarb. He said to overnight a copy of the book proposal and tell her to contact him if she s interested. She called a day later with a contract offer. The advance allowed me to buy a $17,000 writing cabin in a tiny settlement on a lake some thirty miles from Oxford.
I worked almost four years on the book, still teaching except for a one-semester leave. During a summer in Montgomery, I read court opinions and continued interviewing Judge Johnson and others. His wife, Ruth, mentioned that Jacqueline Onassis had called the judge about writing a memoir.
I met with Jackie Onassis only twice, the second time asking how she became interested in Judge Johnson. After reflecting a moment, she said, I guess it goes back to hearing Jack and Bobby talk about him at the White House. In a message on my answering machine after reading the manuscript, she said it was wonderful.

Meanwhile, my second marriage was falling apart. Four days after the second divorce became final, I met twice-divorced Nathalie Dupree, who had been single for almost three decades. Six months to the day later, we were married in Jamaica and have enjoyed more than twenty-two blissful years together as this is written.
Soon after we married, I received a phone call from Ethel Kennedy telling me I had received the 1994 Robert Kennedy Book Award. Nathalie and my four sisters joined me for dinner at Hickory Hill after the award presentation at the Freedom Forum. Several children, friends such as Jack Nelson and their spouses, and a dozen or so other guests that included South Carolina writer Dori Sanders, joined us.
I had started thinking that pursuing a Ph.D. as I was nearing sixty wasn t such a big deal. At Emory University s Institute of Liberal Arts, the doctoral program in American studies required only one foreign language, for which I ve never had any aptitude, rather than the two required for history. Most of my courses were in history, including several related to the Constitution and civil rights. Other courses, such as one on popular culture, made connections that expanded my understanding of American social history, and three courses were Holocaust related.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Thompson, who had set aside roughly a half-dozen chapters she had drafted some years before, and I had tentatively agreed to coauthor a biography of Strom Thurmond. In my experience covering him as a reporter, I had found him personally intriguing and politically shrewd; and I had reported in detail about his historically key roles in Richard Nixon s getting the Republican nomination and winning the presidency in 1968.
I decided to write a biography of Thurmond as my dissertation. In addition to extensive oral history and traditional historical research, I would also have access to Marilyn s earlier material, and I negotiated a book contract for the two of us with an Atlanta publisher.
After I completed a full draft of my dissertation, Marilyn spent several weeks reading it and proposing editing changes. My dissertation advisor approved her role as a reader, which is explained in the front matter of the dissertation. Other than changes in some footnotes, the text of the submitted dissertation and that of the book are identical. Ol Strom received a favorable review in the New York Times Book Review .

Back at Ole Miss, a succession of journalism department chairs followed Will Norton after he became dean of journalism at the University of Nebraska. To say none was sterling would be an understatement. Although I was tenured, my appointment was not renewed after I received my doctorate. Rather than bring a lawsuit, I accepted a modest buyout. (I should have called Chaz Joyner for advice.)
After leaving Ole Miss, I spent a few months writing a book chapter, Newspaper Monopoly, for Leaving Readers Behind , a 2001 University of Arkansas Press book. The research included travel to New York s Westchester County, Wisconsin, Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area, and greater Los Angeles. The Pew Charitable Trust funded the project. My chapter, as did others, first ran as a cover article in American Journalism Review . Gene Roberts served as the project s editor in chief.
With that done and my doctorate from Emory in hand, I was offered a faculty appointment in 1999 at the College of Charleston by President Alex Sanders, whom I had known during his service in both houses of the South Carolina legislature. Years earlier I wrote the initial story of his possible sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker, a bird many believed extinct, in Congaree Swamp near Columbia. That front-page story generated interest that over time led to today s Congaree National Park. When asked years later whether he believed the bird was really there, Sanders told me, He was there when we needed him.
Upon returning to Charleston for the 1999 fall semester as an interdisciplinary professor of humanities and social sciences, I was assigned to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences rather than an academic department. It allowed me to teach courses in communications, political science, and history-including an occasional honors course. Departmental chairs were happy for me to teach courses because it meant the department got credit for the student hours without having to pay my salary from their budgets. And my duties didn t include advising students, attending departmental meetings, or serving on committees-all time-consuming faculty tasks. This schedule allowed more time for research and writing two more books.
During my nine years there, Marilyn Thompson and I coauthored a second, and quite different, biography of Thurmond after his African American daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, came forward after his death to confirm their relationship. For the first book, I had visited her in California, but at that time she said they were just old family friends. Marilyn had interviewed her for a story she wrote in 1992 for the Washington Post .
At Thurmond s funeral in 2003, Senator Joe Biden had delivered a warm eulogy recalling their closely working together on several issues, telling stories that elevated Thurmond s national image and revealed more of his complicated political role.
After Ms. Williams s announcement following Thurmond s death, Public Affairs Press contacted Marilyn and me about writing a second book, and we both did considerable additional research. After Ms. Williams acknowledged the relationship to establish her and her children s heritage at a press conference before more than one hundred journalists in Columbia, we met privately and stayed in close contact for months, talking almost weekly by telephone-conversations that turned up a nugget or two of new information almost every time.
Meanwhile, in 2005 I had taught a spring semester abroad in France s Loire Valley. While there, I wrote a thirty-five-page proposal for a book idea that began early in my graduate work at Emory: Justice Abandoned . It will tell in full the complex and essentially unknown full story of the Supreme Court s central role in ending Reconstruction.
In introducing me to receive the 2011 Governor s Award in the Humanities, Charles Joyner said he was grateful we had shared a friendship for more than four decades. I fully share that feeling.
1 . Jack Bass, Taming the Storm: The Life and Times of Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr . (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 248.
Stranger Redux

Orville Vernon Burton
We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us.
1 Chronicles 29:15
The journey has been strange and wondrous. Charles Joyner has been with me on the journey-as guide, friend, and example. To explain requires me to tell the story of the journey. Never mind that it may seem to have taken me far from my southern home and historical studies. Joyner and I have both orbited always around the same southern sun, though his sun rose and set in the low-country and mine in the upcountry of South Carolina. In these orbits, I have regularly felt the gravity of Joyner s magnetic pull.
I first learned of Charles Joyner when I was a student at Furman University and attending a Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC) meeting on campus in 1968. SSOC was a group of southern progressive students particularly interested in bettering race relations and ending segregation in the American South; our na vet was evident in our symbol, a black and a white hand clasping over a Confederate flag. Our Furman University SSOC got started just about the time the national organization was disbanding, but the Furman SSOC continued even after the national SSOC ended. 1 The group needed a sponsor to legitimize our organization, and the person who was willing to help us was Professor Charles Joyner of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. I learned later that on his return home, Joyner got lost on the back roads, which caused some concern for his wife, Jeannie, since, in the late 1960s, working for civil rights or voting rights could still be dangerous in the South.
In the 1970s I was reintroduced to Joyner when fellow historian of the South Drew Faust brought us together at a history conference, knowing that we two South Carolinians shared interests in community studies and race. With a twinkle in his eye, Joyner likes to tell folks that he was warned by Faust that I sounded like Deputy Dawg. Joyner would become both mentor and dear friend. He was a model for me on how to use quality scholarship in the active pursuit of justice. Although in those early days I attended few historical conferences or meetings due to lack of funds, Joyner encouraged me to attend the Southern Historical Association (SHA) annual meetings. We started sharing rooms at the SHA, as well as at the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the American Historical Association (AHA), and the Social Science History Association (SSHA) annual meetings. We had lively discussions of history late into the nights, and though sleep deprived, we were intellectually excited from these talk fests. One of the most memorable moments of my academic career was sharing a session with Joyner at the SHA annual meeting in New Orleans in 1987. Focused on our two community studies, Joyner s Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community (1984) and my In My Father s House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina (1985), the session was entitled Large Questions in Small Places. Any historian of the American South is interested in place, or should be. We concur with Eudora Welty that one place understood helps us understand all places better. Sense of place gives equilibrium; extended, it is sense of direction. 2
When contemplating this essay about my career as a historian of the American South, I remembered that my first assignment in the ninth grade at Ninety Six High School was to write an autobiography. I wrote that paper sitting at my mother s white kitchen table, writing much more legibly than I do now. At the conclusion I had several points to ponder: Which field of work to enter when I finish college is very puzzling. I enjoy working on a farm though the pay is not as high as in a professional occupation. I worked in a grocery store and in a filling station for several years, but the job becomes monotonous. I have thought of teaching as a vocation although I have heard that a teacher s salary is not very high. I would like to travel and see the world, but I believe that I owe it to my mother to get the best education possible. Mother has often said, Vernon, your education is one thing which cannot be taken away from you. 3
As usual my mother was right.
In my journeys away from Ninety Six, I have always felt out of place, an outsider, a stranger in a strange land. When I arrived at Princeton University, people often remarked on my southern accent. It was not the melodious, aristocratic Charleston accent, or the beautiful lowcountry South Carolina of Charles Joyner, but the upcountry drawl, more reminiscent of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, which reflects a mix of black and white culture that Joyner has so eloquently written about. In graduate school, my coadvisor, James McPherson, when he was asked how I was doing, replied, I have no idea; I can t understand a word he is saying. Luckily, my Ph.D. coadvisor, Sheldon Hackney, was from Alabama and could translate for me to my other professors.
After graduate school and a brief stint in the army, I taught at the University of Illinois, where I was the red-headed stepchild.

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