Bye Bye Studs

I am saddened by the news of the death of Studs Terkel, one of my favorite authors. He was populist and FDR liberal who never gave up the good fight. I listened to him on the radio and read, enjoyed and learned from his books. “The Great War” introduced me to stories of people on the front lines of WWII- men, women, soldiers and civilians. Vastly engaging.

One of my favorite interviews, one that I first heard and then read was transforming. He spoke with a man from the deep south who had been filled with hate and anger. This man had been a leader in the klu klux klan- he was vicious, racist, anti-semitic, anti-union, but through a series of events found himself on a school board, partnered with an African-American woman. They worked together, learned from each other and became life-long friends. The white man eventually finished his high school diploma and ran for a political office and won- partly from the support of the local African-American community. They were able to recognize that person can change and can redeem their past. Eventually this man died, suffering from alzheimer’s disease. But I remember seeing a photograph of this old man, sitting in a wheel chair holding the hand of the African-American woman who helped him learn dignity and respect.

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