Sunday, July 28, 2013

Black and White

I've been doing some heavy reading this summer.  Mostly Taylor Branch's trilogy on America In the King Years.  I finished volume two last night, Pillar of Fire (1963-65).  What stands out as the central theme of the book(s) is the absolutely entrenched racism of southern society in that period.  They start teaching that shit right from the cradle, I guess.  It's the only possible explanation.  The sheer brutality of it, the amazing audacity, the 100% compliance, it just blows the mind.  Groups of Negroes (they weren't Blacks yet) would go out to register to vote and be beaten, harassed, dog-bitten and sometimes even gun-shot and then arrested for 'disturbing the peace.'  Fuck.


  1. NAC: In the winter of 1967/68 I was in Biloxy Miss., Keesler Air Force Base for Air Traffic Control School, I think it was a 5 month class at that time, 1/2 day in class, 1/2 day study. Around the base I never saw any open racism near the base, but a few miles off was Gulfport and there were signs downtown on stores and restaurants directing minorities to side doors or back doors. I was surprised because I thought we had wiped that out a few years earlier. My best friend was a little guy from Hawaii, very asian looking, he was the minimum height and weight allowed, I think he was 5'1", he was also a boxer. He was always worried about going at night too far from the bars that ringed the base. Maybe that was a good thing, he was easy to carry when he got drunk. Sarge Ron came through their too a few months later. Sounds like a good set of books. I just finished "Former People" by The Final Days of the Russian Aristrocracy, Douglas Smith, Claims to be the first book written as an in depth study of what happened to the rich from the revolution to present. It was bleak, almost all starved or were killed but it took decades.

    1. History is so happy, isn't it? ; )

    2. Kevin,
      Biloxi, Mississippi and Harrison County was about as racist as you could get! Okay, at the race track a whole maybe a mile or more away at Ellis Park From where I was raised in Evansville (but still in Indiana) back in the 50s and even into the 60s you never seen a black face in the grandstand and the canteen area on the back side (the stables area) there was a canteen with a white side and a black side. But, Kentuccky was, and still is behind the "cotton curtain".
      Remember that Darrel and I were down there just after those three civil rights workers were slain
      over in Nicshoba County (the movie, "Mississippi Burning" - 1968.
      Now, black airman could go out gate seven and drink in relative safety but downtown Biloxi? No way.
      I had a black E-7 friend tell me about having his kids piss in a can in the car as they drove across Mississippi to their new base in South Carolina.

      Does the shit still go on? Look at the opposition to Obama - that isn't just partisan politics at its worse; that is racism. Now, maybe not blantant; but racism none the less...

      Excellent post!
      Carry on!


    3. Well, I started the third one last night, Canaan's Edge. I recommend this trilogy for anyone with a great deal of time available. 2,306 pages of text, plus end notes, acknowledgements, etc. ; )