"Proves that journalism at its best can endure as literature. A compelling portrait of the 1960s and the American South by an engaged participant and acute observer."--Robert Schmuhl, University of Notre Dame
The Changing South of Gene Patterson celebrates the work of one of America's most influential journalists who wrote in a time and place of dramatic social and political upheaval. The editor of the Atlanta Constitution from 1960 through 1968, Patterson wrote directly to his fellow white southerners every day, working to persuade them to change their ways. His words were so inspirational that he was asked by Walter Cronkite to read his most famous column, about the Birmingham church bombing, live on the CBS Evening News.
This volume includes over 120 of Patterson's best pieces, selected from some 3,200 columns. These columns offer probing commentary on the crucial issues of race, civil rights, social justice, and desegregation; some reveal examples of political and moral leadership, drawn from every corner of southern culture. Introductory essays, framing Patterson's work as journalism and literature, place it in the context of southern history and the evolution of white southern liberalism. Patterson himself contributes a new essay, reflecting on his life, work, and times.
At a time when protest, violence, and confrontation defined race relations and even the South itself, Patterson's wise, sane, humorous, passionate column appeared daily on the Constitution's editorial page, urging white southerners to become "better than we are." Speaking as one who "grew up hard" in small-town Georgia, Patterson could urge change with a conviction and credibility matched by few others. With enlightened leadership and adherence to the rule of law, the sky would not fall, Patterson assured his readers. While black leaders led America toward civil rights and social justice, writers such as Patterson had the courage to appeal to the white southern conscience. Unmistakably engaged with his time and place, Patterson's columns provide a compelling day-to-day look at the civil rights era as it unfolded.
Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. Raymond Arsenault, winner of the Florida Humanities Council 2019 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing, is the John Hope Franklin Professor of History at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.
About the Author
Raymond Arsenault, winner of the Florida Humanities Council 2019 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing, is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.
What People are Saying About This
"In pointing us toward how to be 'better than we are,' Gene Pattersonpassionate, funny, sound of mind and full of heartcoincidentally reminds us just how fine journalism can be. This is a wonderful, inspiring book."Geneva Overholser, syndicated columnist, Washington Post Writers Group, and Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting, University of Missouri
"Proves that journalism at its best can endure as literature. A compelling portrait of the 1960s and the American South by an engaged participant and acute observer."Robert Schmuhl, University of Notre Dame