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Southern Characters and History

It’s a week of variety and food for thought at Salvation South.

Ernestine Crowell is by no means your average greeter. For four decades, she has served as the legislative receptionist at the Alabama House of Representatives, and over the years she’s developed quite a reputation. She’s widely known for keeping the 105 members of the Alabama house in line.

“I’m your go-to person for your constituents,” she tells every representative. “You don’t want to ever make me angry because I talk to your constituents before you do.”

Crowell has helped countless Alabamians untangle the web of government agencies and get the help they need for their problems. She is a consummately Southern character, and Birmingham writer Lanier Isom has delivered a beautiful profile that is our lead story today. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Our second story this week is a hard-hitting essay from Zeniya Cooley, a young, Black, South Carolina-born writer who grew up loving that epitome of Old South narratives, “Gone With the Wind.” Now an adult, Cooley tells us about how her love of the book and the 1939 film based on it has changed dramatically — and how she’s come to believe that the South deserves another story “not focused on white entitlement, but one that considers the pride and pain of the Indigenous dispossessed, the hope and dreams of the Black inherited.” 

And finally, Arkansas native poet Jesse Breite brings us two pieces. The first, “The Sleeper,” tells the story of Abraham Galloway, a former slave in North Carolina who, during the Civil War, worked as a spy for the U.S. Army as it fought to put down the Confederate rebellion. Later, during Reconstruction, Galloway won a set in the North Carolina State Senate. Breite’s second poem, “The Hydrant,” vividly captures the intense heat of Southern summers.

It’s a week of variety and food for thought at Salvation South. Happy reading. 

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About the author

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Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

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