We’ve come to Alabama— no banjo on our knee, but Oh Suzanne (La Rosa) and the whole NewSouth Books crew (Randall, Lisa, Mike) have made us feel welcome for the official Montgomery launch of Drifting into Darkness: Murder, Madness, Suicide and a Death “Under Suspicious Circumstances.”
Alabama Book Tour: My First Event at Read Herring
On June 9, nearly 50 people showed up at NewSouth’s retail outlet, the Read Herring bookstore downtown, which is stuffed full of excellent new and used books. Among those who attended were former defense team members Bill Blanchard and death penalty mitigation specialist Susan Brown Wardell. Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees also joined us, along with numerous friends and acquaintances of Charlotte and Brent Springford Sr.
I spoke and read several brief sections from the book. The reception was friendly, much to my relief. Many of those who attended said that they were surprised to learn so much about the Springfords that they didn’t know.
We had great media coverage as well: the area public radio station, the Montgomery Independent weekly paper, the Montgomery Advertiser daily, and WFSA-TV.
Other appearances followed at the charming Ernest & Hadley bookstore in a restored, 1920s house just off the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. (At this point, I think it’s mandatory under state law that I say, “Roll, Tide!”)
Later that day, I donated my papers from Drifting Into Darkness to the Troy University library. I’m hoping to return to Montgomery and give a talk on their campus.
Personal Stops Along the Way
Between book appearances, we visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Civil Rights museum, which had a deep, emotional impact on us, and, equally, the outdoor, lynching memorial. Also, Maya Lin’s moving stone and water sculpture at the Civil Rights Memorial Center, where we encountered a large tour group of students from the Seattle area.
Across the street is the towering headquarters of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done such great work over the years in advancing justice and fighting terrorism. I was able, at long last, to break bread with one of my heroes, SPLC co-founder Joe Levin and his lovely wife Bari.
We also found time to attend Friday evening services at Congregation Beth-Or, a return visit to one I made in 2015 when I first began researching Drifting into Darkness.
Finally, we took a Sunday evening “Blues Cruise” aboard the paddle wheeler Harriott on the Alabama River, where we met some human rights activists from the Indian state of Kashmir, who were on a State Department tour.
We were impressed with the friendliness of people in Montgomery and Alabama and look forward to our return in the fall.
Unless noted, all photos by Sarah M. Brown.
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