March 30-April 5, 2001
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IN THIS ISSUE
University continues reorganization of top Health System administration
Dave Matthews Band announces second benefit concert in Charlottesville
Breaking bread brings faculty and students together

Notable -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff

Kunitz's poems chronicle passing through the 20th century
Novelist Margot Livesey to be here beginning of April
Hot Links -- Libra, the library's magazine
Off the Shelf -- recently published books by faculty and staff
U.Va. professor recalls growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era
Electronic Text Center will share $1.5 million gift with Monticello
In Memoriam
Two Engineering faculty named AIMBE fellows
Artist's "Galactic Journal" on display
Looking for dark matter, distant stars and extraterrestrial life

The Last Days U.Va. professor recalls growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era

Staff Report

"One spring afternoon in 1967, when the warm Alabama air was perfumed with honeysuckle and scuppernong, my father and I were walking along a dirt path through fields of green wire grass. With his hand brushing lightly against my shoulders, he told me the Lord was calling us to Mississippi, to blessings more abundant than we could ever imagine."

— from The Last Days

So begins Charles Marsh's memoir in which he seeks to come to terms with the haunting memories of his own childhood and adolescence in the mid-1960s and
early '70s in the deep South. Marsh, associate professor of religious studies, has crafted an unforgettable story of small town Southern life caught up in the whirlwind of the Civil Rights movement. The Last Days is a passionately written, uncompromising account in which Marsh explores how good Christian folk acquiesced to the terror of the Ku Klux Klan and how his father, the Rev. Bob Marsh, a prominent Baptist preacher, eventually found the courage to share in the vision of a New South.

Laurel, Mississippi, where the Marsh family moved to in 1967, was a bustling, sophisticated, largely middle- and upper-middle-class town. As minister of The First Baptist Church, Marsh was a respected and beloved man in the community. Laurel was also the home base of Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Mississippi KKK, who commanded a daily and unchallenged program of terror and misery.

In The Last Days, a small town Southern drama unfolds of a father grappling with his moral indecision while trying to teach his family the meaning and practice of Christian purity. Rev. Marsh struggled to do the right thing and his son tells this story with honesty, insight and compassion. Caught between righteous indignation and moral torpor, Marsh tells how his father eventually found the courage to take a public stand against Bowers. Marsh talked about writing the memoir and participated in a panel discussion during the book festival.


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