Although Noel Polk’s narrative of his young life, in Outside the Southern Myth, is set mainly in the 1950s, the book was published in 1997 and reads as a counter-narrative to the multitude of mainstream narratives about what Southern is. Historians, social scientists, and critics may have written their ‘Pre-Civil Rights Southerners did this, and Pre-Civil Rights Southerners thought that’ in academic treatises and popular articles, but Polk’s retort in his book is: “I was there, and I didn’t do or see what you’re describing.” …


“Meltdown in Dixie” caught my attention because I remember seeing this story back in 2017, about an Orangeburg, South Carolina ice cream shop owner who was fighting to have a Confederate flag removed from a tiny parcel of land by his business. Orangeburg, a small town in the western part of the state, is home to two historically black colleges and was the site of a deadly race riot in 1968. This short documentary explains that Orangeburg was also home to the eccentric segregationist Maurice Bessinger, whose barbecue restaurants enabled his outspoken way of spreading his beliefs. …


From the very first sentences of Matthew Lassiter’s 2006 book The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South, I recognized my own life. I was in school during the disgruntling efforts to integrate the post-movement South, and I had no idea, when I began kindergarten in 1979, that Alabama’s schools and teachers’ unions had once been segregated by race. It wasn’t until my teenage years in the late ’80s that I was beginning to understand what had occurred. So, I found myself in familiar territory with Lassiter’s opening example: a man in Charlotte, North Carolina who was upset about…


One of the more interesting (and difficult) things about myths was summed up well by the late Joseph Campbell: myths “are not to be judged as true or false, but as effective or ineffective, maturative or pathogenic.” It may seem like common sense to combat a disagreeable sentiment by using a retort about what is empirically true, but factual accuracy is not the function of or purpose for a myth. Myths are designed to accomplish something, primarily to aid in having some aspect of life make sense to the people who create or embrace them.

In my readings, I have…


It is easy to believe that Southern evangelists, especially the more outlandish types, are all homegrown Southerners who proselytize around their home region, but that is not necessarily the case. While the forms that Christianity has taken in the South have their own regional flavor, which is sometimes unorthodox, there are nonconformists and zealots in the South who have come here from other parts of the world. …


In the South, where family is important, mothers play vital roles in our lives as caregivers and housekeepers, as nurses and counselors, even as a family’s moral compass. As such, mothers become mythic figures in Southern culture, whether it be through country songs like “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” or movies like Sounder. In this brief essay, we share in one man’s experience of losing his mother but finding her again in the Bible that she held dear.

Momma’s Bible
by Rora M. Kellis

St. Joseph Hospital in Southern Pines, North Carolina is a large intimidating structure done in Jacobean-Tudor…


It is well-known that music was a unifying element in the South’s Civil Rights movement, whether through the hymns sung by activists or the calls for integrated audiences at rock and R&B shows, so it would seem paradoxical that music could also be divisive in the years that followed. In this essay, Terry Barr comments on the myths and narratives that accompanied various musical styles when he was growing up in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Long-Haired Disco Boys
by Terry Barr

“There was long ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones
Black ones, round ones, big ones…


Among the foods that are inarguably Southern, grits rank at or near the top. The narrative that says grits are of, for, and in the South is chiseled in stone. But what isn’t chiseled in stone is how to prepare them- or how to eat them. In this essay, a newly arrived Southerner explores the possibilities of this mythical culinary side dish.

Grits and the California Boy
by Nils Skudra

Coming from northern California, our family was totally unacquainted with a Southern phenomenon called grits although the idea of them fueled my peregrinations ever since I watched the 1992 comedy…


The high school prom is a mythic event, and in that respect, the South is no different than the rest of the nation. As teenagers reach the end of high school, narratives emerge about the importance of the prom as a seminal event in one’s life. In this essay, Van Newell tells us a complicated story about a prom and a date, about high school personalities and ideals, and about how life can carry us in directions that our teenage beliefs and narratives did not include.

The Yearbook Let Her Have The Last Word
by Van Newell

A little while…

Foster Dickson

writer, editor, & award-winning teacher in Montgomery, AL | editor of “Nobody’s Home” | proud Gen X | www.fosterdickson.com

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