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NewSouth Books
May 2, 2010 1:05 PM   Subscribe

"La Rosa does not care who knows she sees the world from well left of center. Williams balks at accepting the liberal title; instead he states his preference to be known as a progressive. 'When people hear liberal, this happens,' he said while making hand gestures showing steam coming out of his head." Their views and their press are helping to remake Montgomery, Alabama.

A block from the old slave auction grounds in one direction and the same distance from the site of an attack on Freedom Riders in the other, boutique publishing house NewSouth Books has spent a decade printing small-run works in an old shoe factory. Their dedication has helped create a more nuanced the understanding of Montgomery's multifaceted role in the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement.

Three exemplary works:

Neither Carpetbaggers nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders during the Reconstruction of Alabama 1867-1878 by Richard Bailey

The Other Side of Montgomery: Growing Up White in the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement by Eddie Phillips

The Works of Matthew Blue, Montgomery's First Historian by Mary Ann Neeley
posted by jefficator (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Well left of center," in this case, appears to mean, "is familiar with actual history."
posted by SPrintF at 2:04 PM on May 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Everyone knows that facts have a significant left-wing bias.
posted by mek at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


Are there any pictures of these steamy gestures? I'd like to be able to make them, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:17 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting that you bring up scalawags.
posted by TedW at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2010


is this, this liberal oppsy-daisy akin to
medical marijuana patients for Bush?
posted by clavdivs at 3:22 PM on May 2, 2010


As a Montgomery native, I say, "Huh?" New South may be run by people who consider themselves "progressive" but that isn't really their story. (Just check theirtitles. As the MA said, "Most of the books are not overly political.") Their story is making it as a small independent publisher of regional-interest titles in the Web era. Couldn't you have fleshed that angle out more?

It's also becoming increasingly annoying to see nearly every article by a non-local having to do with Montgomery (or, really, anywhere in the south) inevitably trying to create a tie-in to the civil war or the civil rights era. Story not compelling enough? Well, let's pretend this is tangentially related to two of the most important and controversial events in the nation's history! Does every story about lower Manhattan point out that the action is taking place mere miles -- nay, blocks! -- from the former slave market at Wall & Water?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 3:39 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Their dedication has helped create a more nuanced the understanding of Montgomery's multifaceted role in the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement.

So there is a presumption here that most may have a monolithically singular idea of Montgomery's place in these affairs. These questions follow: What is it that idea, why is it wrong, and what in particular is New South doing to correct it?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 3:47 PM on May 2, 2010


What is it that idea
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 3:48 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also becoming increasingly annoying to see nearly every article by a non-local having to do with Montgomery (or, really, anywhere in the south) inevitably trying to create a tie-in to the civil war or the civil rights era.

since when is the montgomery advertiser non-local?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:02 PM on May 2, 2010


It's a Gannet paper and the writers are almost always imports. However, it wasn't the MA article I was responding to with that remark but rather the set-up of this post. (Ergo the concluding sentence.)
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2010


But thanks for the attempted "gotcha" post.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 4:18 PM on May 2, 2010


Does every story about lower Manhattan point out that the action is taking place mere miles -- nay, blocks! -- from the former slave market at Wall & Water?

No, but but doesn't it seem like they all include a reference to the damaged skyline?
posted by Malor at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2010


No, but but doesn't it seem like they all include a reference to the damaged skyline?

Yes, just this kind of thing!

RAGE!
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 4:39 PM on May 2, 2010


Does every story about lower Manhattan point out that the action is taking place mere miles -- nay, blocks! -- from the former slave market at Wall & Water?

TOTALLY the same thing, as far as false equivalencies go.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:14 PM on May 2, 2010


Including a familiar reference keeps people reading.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:22 PM on May 2, 2010


(I live in Montgomery.)

In addition to the publishing concern, New South has an actual book store where they sell their own books as well as used and new titles from other publishers. Lotsa great stuff there. Last time I was through, I bought a book on Howard Finster as a birthday gift for a friend.

As for Williams' claim that he's a "progressive," I tend to believe it since, during the aformentioned visit, I discovered that he evidently doesn't mind if his employees come to work baked. (And neither do I).

In all seriousness, though, as a Chomsky-ish anarchist who considers himself somewhere to the left of Karl Marx, I concede that merely making available accurate historical works doesn't by itself get your subscription to Socialism Today renewed. However, I can say without reservation that I'd rather spend an evening discussing politics with the New Southians than with the Lawyers down at The Southern Poverty Law Center. Not that they haven't done some great work; it's just that they seem to me as much a part of the machine as, say, the Alabama Democratic Party.

Regarding the reference to the civil rights movement and what not...

I can kinda see it. It's tough for a journalist to describe how the culture in a particular city feels. That's something that's way too subjective to render as a factual statement. So the reporter has to cite examples likely to evoke this feeling. But even those will only get you so far in this particular case because that which makes Montgomery feel like Montgomery is really the list of things you can't do and say here. It's hard to define something (or someplace) as the very essence of not X, not Y, and not Z. But having grown up here, I have to say, that may be the most powerful part of the culture, that feeling that you're not allowed to behave in certain ways, to hold certain opinions. I think the Civil Rights Movement references are the reporter's clumsy way of invoking that unseen but always felt social pressure. "This is a town that once shot people for saying Blacks and Whites should be equal, so just imagine how much much it hates a couple of progressive publishers."

Like I said; clumsy. But not exactly wrong.
posted by Clay201 at 1:03 AM on May 3, 2010


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