The Ballad of Little River: A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South

The Ballad of Little River A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South Except for a massacre of five hundred settlers by renegade Creek Indians in the early s not much bad had happened during two centuries in Little River Alabama an obscure Lost Colony in the swam

  • Title: The Ballad of Little River: A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South
  • Author: Paul Hemphill
  • ISBN: 9780684856827
  • Page: 188
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Except for a massacre of five hundred settlers by renegade Creek Indians in the early 1800s, not much bad had happened during two centuries in Little River, Alabama, an obscure Lost Colony in the swampy woodlands of To Kill a Mockingbird country We re stuck down here being poor together is how one native described the hamlet of about two hundred people, half black and hExcept for a massacre of five hundred settlers by renegade Creek Indians in the early 1800s, not much bad had happened during two centuries in Little River, Alabama, an obscure Lost Colony in the swampy woodlands of To Kill a Mockingbird country We re stuck down here being poor together is how one native described the hamlet of about two hundred people, half black and half white But in 1997, racial violence hit Little River like a thunderclap A young black man was killed while trying to break into a white family s trailer at night, a beloved white store owner was nearly bludgeoned to death by a black ex convict, and finally a marauding band of white kids torched a black church and vandalized another during a drunken wilding soon after a Ku Klux Klan rally The Ballad of Little River is a narrative of that fateful year, an anatomy of one of the many church arsons across the South in the late 1990s It is also much a biography of a place that seemed, on the cusp of the millennium, stuck in another time When veteran journalist Paul Hemphill, the son of an Alabama truck driver who has written extensively on the blue collar South, moved into Little River, he discovered the flip side of what the natives like to call God s country a dot on the map far from the mainstream of American life, a forlorn cluster of poverty and ignorance and dead end jobs in the dark, snake infested forests, a world that time forgot Living alongside the citizens of Little River, Hemphill discovered a stew of characters right out of fiction Peanut Ferguson, Doll Boone, Hoss Mack, Joe Dees, Murray January, a Klansman named Brother Phil, and his stripper wife known as Wild Child swirling into a maelstrom of insufferable heat, malicious gossip, ancient grudges, and unresolved racial animosities His story of how their lives intertwined serves, as well, as a chilling cautionary tale about the price that must be paid for living in virtual isolation during a time of unprecedented growth in America God s country is in deep trouble.

    One thought on “The Ballad of Little River: A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South”

    1. Happy to get through this without encountering the names of any relatives or former high school classmates.

    2. I thought this was going to be a book that helped me understand why there was a wave of African American church burnings in the 1990s. Really, it focuses on one incident in Little River, Alabama. When one African American church is destroyed and another is damaged by white teenagers after a night of partying, Hemphill lays out a number of possible causes and leaves it to the reader to decide whether it was a hate crime. Most of the kids came from poor broken homes with few prospects for the futu [...]

    3. This was pretty good, very well written indeed. I have to say, though, the author told us more about the personalities involved and more about the local flavor than about the crimes themselves. Maybe because there were so many other, juicier crimes going on all around. This book is more about a Town That Time Forgot than about The Churches That Burned.

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