Publications to Note
By Linda T. Wynn, Assistant Director for State Programs & Publications Editor
University Press of California, 155 Grand Avenue, Oakland, California, 94612-3764.
Education in Black and White: Myles Horton and the Highlander Center’s Vision for Social Justice by Stephen Preskill is the first biography of Horton in twenty-five years. This tome spotlights the educational theories and strategies he advanced at Highlander to assist the interests of the poor, marginalized, disempowered and oppressed. Appalled by the disrespect and discrimination heaped upon poverty-stricken and low-waged earning people, both Black and white, throughout Appalachia, Horton, a native Tennessean, resolved to create a space available to all. In this unimpeded space, everyday ordinary people could speak forthrightly, learn from each other, and come to an understanding about the issues that obstructed a broader comprehension surrounding class and race, right and wrong. A former student of Reinhold Niebuhr, a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of America’s leading public intellectuals, in 1932 Horton, Don West, Jim Dombrowski and others founded the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, during the Great Depression. Twelve years later, Highlander also fought segregation in the labor movement, holding its first integrated workshop in 1944. Because of Horton’s commitment to ending segregation, Highlander became a significant incubator in the Modern Civil Rights movement. Workshops and training sessions at Highlander helped lay the groundwork for many of the movement’s most important initiatives, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the Citizenship Schools, and the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Horton’s vision influenced civil rights activists from Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Congressman John Lewis. Preskill, a writing consultant and professor at Columbia University, narrates Horton’s influence as an advocate for organized labor, a civil rights activist, supporter of Appalachian self-empowerment, and a champion for direct democracy. This work, as a mnemonic for mid-twentieth century social justice movements, is both informative and inspirational for the today’s representative aspirations. Cloth, $29.95
Vanderbilt University Press, 301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-1813
Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story by Rachel Louise Martin relates the history of Nashville’s African American community through the culinary dish of Hot Chicken. Typically, chicken and African Americans have been viewed through stereotypical lens, as seen in D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent movie Birth of a Nation, where some of the elected African American legislators are depicted as lacking culture and refinement and ostentatiously eating fried chicken. When one hears about chicken and African American communities, it is from the perspective of offensive stereotypes. This author and public intellectual, who received a Ph.D. degree in Women and Gender History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has joined the course of voices recognizing the numerous contributions made by African Americans to cooking “the gospel bird.” Notwithstanding their gaining freedom from enslavement with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, public organs omitted African American entrepreneurs from the records. The Nashville Globe, an African American newspaper founded by Richard H. Boyd, in 1941 published a list of forty-one African American-owned restaurants in the city. Yet, the city directory lists only seven of those businesses. From their migration to Nashville to the present, Martin shares the story of the Prince family and their place in history as the primary creators of the hot chicken phenomena. She makes the connection of how the Prince family narrative paralleled Nashville’s major civic and political occurrences. The Prince family narrative exemplifies how urban policies forced them to relocate numerous times as renewal projects decimated one African American community after another, forcing the family business to constantly relocate. Notwithstanding, through perseverance, the Prince family stands in the forefront as the creators of the hot chicken phenomena that has become a favorite fare among white culinary taste. Paper, $19.95.
Another work published by Vanderbilt University Press is I’ll Take You There: Exploring Nashville’s Social Justice Sites edited by Amie Thurber and Learotha Williams. Contributors included those who intimately know Nashville, placing the struggles and achievements of people’s movements toward social justice. More than one hundred Nashvillians direct the reader to places that they might not otherwise come across. Their collective entries illuminate the ways social, political, and economic elites used power to tell or omit certain stories. The stories and sites in I’ll Take You There exemplify the power of counternarratives as a tool to resist injustice. Indeed, each entry is simultaneously a story about place, power, and the historic and ongoing struggle toward a more just city for all. Editor Amie Thurber is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University and Learotha Williams, Jr. is a scholar of African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University. He also spearheads the North Nashville Heritage Project, an effort that seeks to encourage a greater understanding of the history of North Nashville, including but not limited to Jefferson Street and its historic relationship to the greater Nashville community. I’ll Take You There provides a thorough indexing of Nashville and other sites throughout Tennessee through the prism of history, social justice and the struggles for racial and economic equality. I’ll Take You There: Exploring Nashville’s Social Justice Sites is a fascinating and wide-ranging guidebook that tells a more inclusive history of Nashville and compliments Nashville Sites, a program funded and sponsored by the Metropolitan Historical Commission Foundation that focuses on incorporating scholarly research with historic sites in Nashville with delivery available on all devices: mobile, tablet, and desktop. Both I’ll Take You There and Nashville Sites are excellent sources for Nashvillians, Tennesseans, and tourists who want to learn more about the history of Music City. Paper, $17.95.