professor recalls growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights
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
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.
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
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.