Ralph Emerson Mcgill: Voices Of The Southern Conscience

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9781572331358: Ralph Emerson Mcgill: Voices Of The Southern Conscience
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“This biography makes an important contribution to understanding the Civil Rights movement in the South and how the region’s most important newspaper covered it. It’s also fun to read about one of the South’s most important twentieth-century journalists.”—David E. Summer, Ball State University

More than a decade before the civil rights movement, newspaperman Ralph McGill broke the social code of silence that kept white southerners from publicly debating any change in the system of racial segregation. From his editorial perch at the Atlanta Constitution, McGill dared to question the South’s voting laws and its so-called “separate but equal” school system.

In the North, McGill was hailed as the conscience of the South, but on his home turf he was branded a traitor and a Communist—“Red Ralph,” some called him. The Ku Klux Klan picketed his newspaper offices. Reactionaries sent him hate mail, threatened him by telephone, tossed garbage on his lawn, and used his mailbox for target practice. But in his thirty-one years as an editor and publisher, McGill’s columns were eagerly read, even by those who hated him. And those who admired him, including young journalists, began confronting a subject that for generations of white southerners remained a taboo.

For this biography, Leonard Teel has drawn on many archival sources not previously used, including files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as public and private archives of McGill’s papers and correspondence, interviews with his colleagues and family, and the vast storehouse of his opinion columns in both Nashville and Atlanta.

By tracing McGill’s decades-long career from his early days as a foreign correspondent in Cuba in the 1930s to his steadfast support for the Vietnam War, Teel reveals a man who, in his unique way, embodied twentieth-century liberalism in all its complexities and contraditions. Most important, Teel shows how McGill’s brand of liberalism influenced thw way he grappled with the greatest issue of his time: the ending of the Jim Crow era in the South.

The Author: Leonard Ray Teel is an associate professor of communications at Georgia State University, where he founded the Center for International Media Education. He has worked at CNN, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Evening Star in Washington, D.C., and the Miami Herald. His books include Erma: A Black Woman Remembers, 1912–1980 (with Erma Calderon, edited by Toni Morison) and Into the Newsroom: An Introduction to Journalism (with Ron Taylor), which has now been translated into Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish.

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About the Author:

The Author: Leonard Ray Teel is an associate professor of communications at Georgia State University, where he founded the Center for International Media Education. He has worked at CNN, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Evening Star in Washington, D.C., and the Miami Herald. His books include Erma: A Black Woman Remembers, 1912–1980 (with Erma Calderon, edited by Toni Morison) and Into the Newsroom: An Introduction to Journalism (with Ron Taylor), which has now been translated into Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish.

From Library Journal:

As editor of the Atlanta Constitution, McGill (1898-1969) used his writing to weaken racial segregation as a way of life and was subsequently lionized as the voice of the New South. Biographer Teel, a former Atlanta newspaperman now teaching communications at Georgia State University, demonstrates that McGill is far more multidimensional and in many ways less admirable than the lionizers comprehend. McGill made his name as a sportswriter in his home state of Tennessee before moving to Atlanta. Intellectually curious and a world traveler, he broke out of sportswriting to chronicle national and world politics for decades. His personal life included a father who killed another man during a seemingly inconsequential argument, a sickly wife who had several miscarriages, and the early death of an adopted daughter. He often drank to excess, although professional embarrassments and the unexpected birth of a healthy son eventually led to more moderate alcohol consumption. Perhaps McGill's most lasting legacy was his willingness to write about "the situation," as educated white Georgians referred to racial separateness into the 1960s. As this biography reveals, McGill's writings did not promote integration but skillfully hinted at its inevitability. Recommended for journalism collections. Steve Weinberg, Univ. of Missouri Sch. of Journalism, Columbia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9781572331334: Ralph Emerson McGill: Voice of the Southern Conscience

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ISBN 10:  157233133X ISBN 13:  9781572331334
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press, 2001
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