I have a milder and shorter version of this effort in the Hopper for the Ft Payne Bama Times Journal to publish. I hope they do.
Here is one of my earlier offerings when I was fuming:
In the following days I plan to let loose several blogs--www.foxofbama.blogspot.com--
chock full of righteious indignation over the matter of the Collinsville Studnets and the movie Selma. My intention is to make Dekalb County school superintendent Hugh Taylor, as well as Bama house Speaker Mike Hubbard and his wife Susan punch drunk over the Tea Party wave Hubbard orchestrated that placed a rube like Taylor in office.
My Dad was a Baptist preacher, so I'm gonna preach to Hubbard, Taylor and company about insights on the Gospel and the Civil Rights era they missed. For it is obvious the sermons Taylor's wife whispers to him, and the ones he hears at Warren's Graveyard Baptist church are inadequate for his 120,00 dollar salary.
And Theoverrding themes of the Gospel are obvisouly not connecting at FUMC in Auburn for Mike Hubbard and his Advising wife Susan as well.
This whole cabal is intense for me as Hubbard's son Clayte is a freshman at my alma mater, Furman, in Greenville S.C. There is a great chasm from what I learned at Furman and the direction they sent me, from the provincial minds of Hugh Taylor and Mike Hubbard.
Marshall Frady, one of the greatest journalists of the last half of the 20th Century was a Baptist Preacher's son and a 1963 grad of Furman, Just a few months after the Selma march he was covering a trial in Lowndes County, Alabama on the murcer of the Episcopalian priest Jonathan Daniels for Newsweek. He wrotea Faulknerian piece that could have just as easily described Taylor and his wife's ancestry on Sand Mtn, the same mindset that Taylor brought by his DNA to the Collinsville students in his denial to let them see an Oscar nominated movie on school time: ""Instead (of justice) what was really under way was the performance of a kind of unspoken folk rite--a commemoration and sanctification and reaffirmation of Coleman's act (the murder of Daniels), but the whole communal mythology to which it had answered."
As for the movie Selma the New Yorker had a great online reivew up Dec 22, plenty of time for Hugh Taylor to see had he looked past some sophomoric site mostl likely his wife suggested to him; here is what the New Yorker said: " This is cinema, more rhetorical, spectacular, and stirring than cable-TV drama: again and again, DuVernay’s camera (Bradford Young did the cinematography) tracks behind characters as they march, or gentles toward them as they approach, receiving them with a friendly hand. At one point during the first march, the camera slowly rises and peers over a massive beam on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as hundreds of people advance across it. When Alabama state troopers release tear gas and charge on horseback, attacking the marchers with clubs and whips, the screen goes white from the gas, as if shrouded in terror, and the camera hurtles past marchers scrambling to get off the bridge. Many are injured, including the activist Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey). The episode, which took place on March 7, 1965—Bloody Sunday—invokes the tumultuous crowd scenes from silent Soviet classics by Eisenstein and Pudovkin. During the clashes in the White House, however, DuVernay lets the words and the actors carry the meaning. The reliably impressive Tom Wilkinson recalls, without the slightest exaggeration, L.B.J.’s looming head and neck, his heavy hands, his easy way with profanity. The icy confrontation between Johnson and Wallace—whom Roth plays as sarcastic and wily, with a lizard smile—is a minor classic in itself. Historical irony abounds in bio-pic land: our unique American heritage exists onscreen courtesy of talented British actors.
DuVernay’s timing couldn’t be more relevant. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of both the Selma marches and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the act last year, and Republican legislatures across the country have been deploying new voter-I.D. laws. Faced with all that—and with the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York—King would have noticed how far we have yet to go, shaken his head, and set to work..
And for endorsements closer to me and an enlightened Christian perspective there are several ways to go. Becky Kennedy is a native of Collinsville on the chaplaincy staff at Baylor U in Texas. Her Colleague on religion faculty there, Courtney Pace Lyons, had a great piece on the Selma the movie Jan 20 at the site ethcisdaily.com you can easily google. My sister took her youth Sunday School class Monday Jan 19 in Easley South Carolina. My first cousin's daughter, a Sand Mtn native and seminary graduate saw the movie with her husband. Dixie said she would have no problem her four children seeing the film when they are in tenth grade. My father was a Baptist minister as was Dixie's grandfather. I have talked to several Collinsville grads of many colors whose Christian pilgrimage has taken them further than memorizing John 3:16--a good verse by the way--who champion this film and this rare educational moment. I have a great affection for many of these children of browner hues than Mr Taylor and his family some of whose test scores and character hold great promise. If Mr Taylor can't raise the expectations, champion intellectual curiousity and and exploration, he should get out of the way. For 100,000 dollars a year and a good pension these kids deserve more than a small time jock trying to find himself. And maybe some of the school board as well should raise their horizons. Don't experiment on this great diverse community in Collinsville.
I have done my best to bring attention to Mr Taylor at the Auburn University Living Democracy Project. For Two years they have had a presence in Collinsvlle and Selma and 7 or so other small towns across the state. Conversations are ongoing to have Isabel Wilkerson come to Collinsville during Black History MOnth; Isabel the first black woman to win the National Book Award for History, with roots at the Thankful Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia, two blocks from where my parents were married in 49. And, there is a great chance President Obama will mention Selma when he speaks there March 7.
It wouldn't hurt Mike Hubbard and the Bama house, Hugh Taylor and the Central Office to take the month of February, Black History Month and do a little remedial reading. Ironically an Iranian woman, Azar Nafisi, in her new book on The Republic of Imagination, has a better grasp on the greatness of America, understands real patriotism better than Hubbard and Taylor. In the beautiful introduction to her new book she writes that America was born in sin, in the taking of Indan lands and the installment of slavery. But it's redemption was in the living breathing Constitution. It was in later "generations who questioned and subverted the conditions of the founding documents" who are still perfecting the Dream of America's Imagination. America's promise is still being perfected in the experience of suffrage, and the insights of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Alabama's great Judge Frank Johnson who has a majestic scene in the movie Selma standing up to George Wallace's smart-ass lawyers places him as in the incarnation of Atticus Finch himself in the pantheon of the greatest Americans.
So take your children to see Selma, find The Republic of Imagination. Buy some copies for the library of Cornerstone Christian School and Collinsville Public School. Get a few of my friend Sam Hodge's For the Love of Alabama as well. Make some lemonade out of the lemons Taylor and Hubbard.
God Bless America and the the great contributions Martin Luther King, Judge Frank Johnson, Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights marchers and now the Collinsville History Club are making to it in spite of Hubbard and Taylor.
Stephen M. Fox