No White Man

The Appropriate People

Republican primary candidate Ben Carson claims he doesn’t believe new voter identification laws passed in the South are racist, saying such restrictions are necessary. “Voting is an important thing,” he said. “Obviously, you want to make sure that it’s done by the appropriate people.” Ah, the appropriate people. Who they are has always been a tricky […]

Graham, Shelley, Chris

Tattered Coat upon a Stick

An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick… —William Butler Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium” Last week, setting out for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers (NAIBA) show, I wrote boldly how my friend Chris Kerr and I might be dangerous as hurricane Joaquin. I was being ironic, of course, since […]

Chris and _2010 (3)

Grumpy Old Men?

Thursday morning, I’ll embark from the Raleigh, North Carolina, airport on a flight to New York City’s LaGuardia. There, Chris Kerr, my friend of 45 years, will meet me. We’re off to Somerset, New Jersey, for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) meeting, and then on to Providence, Rhode Island, for a gathering of […]

Derryn Moten_Ross Howell Jr (2)

Derryn Moten Conversation

In my August 5 blog, “A Special Day,” I described meeting for the first time Derryn Moten, the historian whose dissertation convinced me to write Forsaken. A video of our conversation, produced by NewSouth Books, is now available. Please have a look. Derryn and I spoke about many of the issues narrator Charlie Mears ponders […]

Apes on savannah_2001_A Space Odyssey

Book Trailer

There are book trailers! Who knew? Certainly not me, wandering the savannahs of the Internet on my knuckles with my laptop in tow, like the apes in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. But my publisher, NewSouth Books’ Suzanne La Rosa, thought it would be a good idea for me to produce one. Of course, […]

Sam at stadium

Pit Bull as Metaphor

Meet Sam. He’s a rescue. The vet’s guess is he’s ten, a pit bull–Lab mix. He weighs 80 pounds. When a neighbor coaxed him off the streets of Fisher Park, where we live in downtown Greensboro, Sam weighed 43 pounds. His kidneys were shutting down. He had scars on his legs, shoulders, neck, and muzzle. […]

Teddy Roosevelt

A New Bull Moose?

The prospect of a more-than-two-party presidential election holds a fascination for Americans, probably because such a race is so rare these days. And for the leadership of the national political parties? Their fascination reaches quivering obsession. Why? Because an outsider’s influence can be calamitous. Let’s look at the presidential election in 1912. It was a four-way […]

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice, by Michael Weeks

For nearly 40 years I worked as a juvenile probation officer and supervisor for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The transfer of juvenile offenders for trial in an adult court is a decision made in the state courts, and statutes vary widely state to state. In Virginia, an offender must be at least 14 years old […]

Wisconsin girls_2

The Slender Man

American courts used to try children over the age of seven as adults. While they received the strict protections of a defendant in a criminal trial, they could also receive a court’s harshest penalty, death. By the nineteenth century, attitudes had changed. The first juvenile court convened in Chicago, Illinois, in 1899. Procedures were more […]

WB Yeats after receiving Nobel Prize 1923

The Second Coming

American politics has always had its share of bloviates, cynics, and demagogues, but recent years have provoked rhetorical excess not heard since Secession or the Red Scare. The vapid arguments of some and the smug ignorance of others are especially troubling now. Too often positions are mortared with hate and intolerance. I remember Massive Resistance and the […]