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Hope in Yazoo Willie Morris, Yazoo, Integration in a Deep-Southern Town, New York: A Harper’s Magazine Press Book, published in Association with Harper & Row, 1971, 192 pp. By Pete Gunter Denton Yazoo is not several things. It is not living proof that North is Home. It is not simply a description of integration in a Deep-Southern town. And it is not, in spite of James Dickey’s spaced-out flyleaf blurb, . . the most important and moving moral document since James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” What Yazoo is, is a piece of literary journalism \(a la Mailer and public battlefield where Willie Morris, Sou therner, fights Willie Morris, Cosmopolite, to an uneasy draw. And, finally, it is a book with a message. The plot is straightforward. Willie Morris, expatriate son, returns from New York to his home town of Altamont \(I long-forestalled, fateful process of Integration. Will Mississippi finally accept the inevitable? Or will a system of white “segregation academies” resegregate the state, wrecking its system of public education and preventing even the most superficial racial accommodation? Will Willie finally turn in the second half of that round trip ticket and stay there, where the hills meet the Delta? Dramatic tension builds as facts, figures, images settle into a surprising pattern. Morris ticks off his facts, images, portraits in highly readable narrative style. In turn one meets a black boycott organizer, an old-line aristocrat, a hard-pressed moderate mayor, a black priest, a white grocery owner who works for integration, a new black capitalist, a white newspaper editor, a mixed couple: everything but an honest-to-god redneck. \(If Yazoo City is fresh out, a few extras could be furnished for interviews from this to be most missing from the narrative is a conversational sequence from a honky-tonk or sawmill clearing. Almost unconsciously the hardhat, the redneck, the poor white are excluded from one’s picture of what is happening in Yazoo City. \(Personally, I kept waiting to hear from the sort of person who used to call me in Alabama at 2:30 a.m. and suggest that I be hung at right angles to a trotline Dr. Gunter is chairman of the Department of Philosophy at North Texas State University. A review I I in the Chattachoochie bottoms. Surely In the end, the picture painted in Yazoo is one of restrained optimism; and restrained optimism about racial matters in Mississippi is nothing less than a revolution. But the facts speak for themselves. A white and a black homecoming queen ride in a main street car caravan, and the town survives; black and white members of a basketball team walk arm in arm into a local high school hangout, and no one riots; white adolescents slip off at night to houses of black classmates to study their homework, and no one’s race is mongrelized; at new industrial plant openings blacks and whites converse amiably over coffee and donuts with no one but a black sheriff’s deputy to keep the law. And, above all, the public schools manage, stumblingly, to stay in existence, as the “segregation academies” fail to take root. Go, Judge, go Houston U.S. Dist. Judge Joe Singleton of Houston was visibly annoyed during a docket call June 1 when a sailor asked for a full-dress trial on his claim against a shipping company for an injury he had suffered. “You mean all we’re concerned with is how much money you’re going to get?” asked Singleton. “I’m settling this case right now.” Singleton, whose major qualification for the federal judiciary is a close friendship with Lyndon Johnson, then asked the sailor several questions about the injury, ending with, “How much did they [the shipping company] offer you to settle this case?” “Five thousand dollars.” “You take five thousand dollars then. I’m entering a judgment right now for five thousand dollars.” When the sailor’s attorney attempted to object, Singleton cut him off to the uproarious delight of 150 courtroom observers with “No more arguments. As they say in the song, `When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.’ ” Next case, please. The end result, Morris claims, is both heartening and ironic. There are no suburbs to flee to in the South’s small towns; and all other subterfuges have been exhausted. Yazoo City, Mississippi, The South, are moving almost inexorably into solutions to our nation’s ancient racial problems. At the end of an . excruciatingly painful metamorphosis The South may provide a moral and racial leadership that our country very badly needs. The import of this fact clearly extends far beyond the borders of the Fabled Southland. If Willie Morris is right, integration is still a valid and fruitful national goal and so, incidentally, is the brotherhood of man. And the fashionable urban revolutionaries who talk race war and molotov cocktails over their martinis may have something new in store to think about. Let us hope so. June 18, 1971 17 MEETINGS THE THURSDAY CLUB of Dallas meets each Downtown YMCA, 605 No. Ervay St., Dallas. Good discussion. You’re welcome. Informal, no dues. CENTRAL TEXAS ACLU luncheon meeting. Spanish Village. 2nd Friday every month. From noon. All welcome. ecology in texas fivice a mina &ology Texas 01.6 fishes: Friends e MeEarg Le isla6ifehv y. resifelort a a an lwa si7 official, or noted conserma&niii environmental ntssfrust Iitro7hout Ilse stale For a oneyear subscreion,send$5.00 -63 Ecology in Texas PO. Fox 8446 Austin, Texas 78712