Southern Culture

Gone With The Wind (1939) - Vivien Leigh & Hattie McDaniel
Rossano aka Bud Care / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/prAfHm

Hollywood was just getting its glamorous start in the early 1900s, and Southerners played a surprisingly important role in the fledgeling industry. Notable southern producers and corrupt movie theater moguls helped shape the growing industry, just as their subject matter shaped perceptions of the South and propagated racial stereotypes. 

Jason Thrasher

John T. Edge is a James Beard award-winning writer and author of the new book “The Potlikker Papers” (Penguin Press/ 2017). Edge grew up in rural Georgia eating biscuits and drinking sweet tea. He spent his career amassing stories of Southern food and the people who cook it.

a plate full of biscuits
Christina B. Castro/ Flickr Creative Commons

Many have argued that as regional distinctiveness faded away, Southern identity evaporated along with it.

Political science professors Christopher Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts studied it, and found that white and black southerners still have a strong and salient sense of what it means to be Southern.
 

Diana Matthews / Algonquin Books

This program originally aired April 4, 2016

Lee Smith started writing stories when she was nine years old and sold them for a nickel a piece.

Many of them were inspired by the gossip, true stories and daily grind she observed at her father's dime store, deep in the coal mining mountains of Virginia.

Bill Ferris has been a leading documentarian of southern culture for more than five decades. His work has preserved the work of blues musicians, painters, writers and many more.
Marcie Cohen Ferris

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from Monday, December 7. 

When Bill Ferris meets someone, he usually asks, “Where are you from?”

The simple question prompts an important answer for the folklorist. For Ferris, a sense of place is integral to one's identity, and there is hardly a more influential and complex place in shaping identities than the American South. 

John Shelton Reed did not think of himself as a southerner until his classmates at MIT pointed it out.

The Tennessee native was going to school in the northeast just as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s took off. It was the beginning of a career dedicated to the study of southern culture.

He came to it as a kind of outsider in his own home but quickly returned to his roots, helped create the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has become one of the preeminent voices on the "correct" way to make North Carolina barbecue. 

Southern Culture on the Skids
Ron Keith

Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS) formed in Chapel Hill more than 30 years ago. Since then, they have traveled the globe with their brand of southern rock.

Jim Grimsley was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Jones County, North Carolina, when the first black children enrolled in his all-white school.

It was more than 10 years after Brown v. Board of Education and Grimsley’s whole world was about to change. Grimsley gets into this in his new memoir, in which he describes the racist environment in which he was raised and how he began to rethink his assumptions.