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we southerners have a rendezvous with destiny (1956) Editors’ Note: Subtitled “A Ruminating, Reflective, Rambling Editorial,” this essay draws on a journey West made in the South in 1956. It appeared in the summer 1956 issue of the New Southerner, a newspaper West launched after leaving Dalton, Georgia. The newspaper’s banner proclaimed it to be the voice of “truth, hope, love, brotherhood, non-violence, simplicity.” Printed by Aubrey Williams’s Southern Farmer operations in Montgomery, Alabama,West intended his newspaper to be “an independent, liberal voice for the rights and liberties of both Negroes and whites in the best American tradition.” Unable to raise sufficient funds, West had to abandon the paper within a short time. Twenty years ago Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “If I worked in a factory the first thing I would do would be to join a union.” He said that because he believed unions were good not only for the working man but for the country as a whole. The past 20 years have proved FDR to be right. No honest, and informed person can deny the good that labor unions have done by raising wages and the standard of living, by helping to achieve social legislation and social security, and in general bringing about more democracy for the people of our country. Nothing More Powerful Than an Idea Whose Time Has Come There are times in the life of a people, or a region, in which an idea becomes more powerful than a mighty army.We believe that time has come,and unionization of southern workers is just such an idea.The South stands at the threshold of a new era of mechanization—automation in industry and agriculture, the potential of peaceful use of atomic energy. 01.Prose.1-blnk 96/West 12/2/03, 11:48 AM 55 no lonesome road 56 “Better a Dinner of Herbs Where Love Is . . .”44 This belief was confirmed by extensive travel over the South in the past few weeks. In the East Tennessee mountains we drove up a winding, rocky, rutted trail to a one room cabin home.We spent the night with warm-hearted,friendly people. Love, hospitality, friendship and hope lived there. The Southern mountaineer, humble and often isolated, has traditionally been devoted to independence and freedom.We can’t forget that he turned the tide of the revolution at King’s Mountain.45 In every war volunteers from the mountains have been greater in proportion than any other part of the nation. Courage, Friendliness, Hospitality, and Patriotism Are the Mark of the Mountain Man Another day we drove to Bristol,Virginia, and spent the night in the home of a businessman. The place was spacious, with many rooms. It was so different from the single room mountain home of the night before—all except the same kind of genuinely warm, friendly welcome, an eagerness to discuss southern problems, and hope for our future. Later we drove through the TVA area in Tennessee and Georgia. It is easy to see the benefits of new industry and aid to farmers that Roosevelt’s vision has accomplished here. No wonder Estes Kefauver is such an ardent champion of the TVA!46 We visitedAtlanta,Macon,and South Georgia.We spent three weeks in Florida and saw a state going through an industrial revolution! We believe more is happening in Florida today than in any other previous time in history.We visited a town whose headlines have reached around the world— Montgomery.47 We visited western North Carolina and stopped, as we have many times before, to talk with the Indians at Cherokee.48 The sore plight of the Indians, the most original of all Americans, and in our humble opinion the most generally oppressed and forgotten, deserves not only a full length editorial but a wide campaign of publicity. Back up the creeks and hollows, in cabins along the steep rugged sides of the great Smokies many a humble Indian family may have literally only a “dinner of herbs,” but our experience causes us to know that love, a long memory, and proud spirit are also there. The Indians deserve better from America. They deserve the right to a life of decency and plenty, and to rebuild and preserve their own cultures. 01.Prose.1-blnk 96/West 12/2/03, 11:48 AM 56 selected prose 57 Factories Now Grow on Once Eroded Sand Hills But the thing that strikes us most in recent...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252092831
Related ISBN
9780252071577
MARC Record
OCLC
846496620
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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