Reese Cleghorn’s “My Grandfather and the Cyclone” was published in the book, “You Can’t Eat Magnolias” (1972). Here is an excerpt:

“If there is a South in the future, and if there is a civilization, it may be because we got soft enough and subtle enough and loving cunning enough to make do during the cyclone (of Reconstruction).

“Who knows whether the South has some special gift for the nation, a hand-me-down from a gentry or a yeomanry?

“If it has, the Lord was working to confound the prognosticators of Southern history, for we have seen it best personified publicly not in a descendent of one of that white gentry or yeomanry we hear about, or in some of the wielder of established temporal powers, but in an unexpected Martin Luther King, with his capacity to combine passion for justice with a loving cunning that made some people call him soft.

“There was a subtle Southerner, one who acted out on the public some of the virtues that the better part of the past South honored privately. If the South now has something extraordinarily good to offer the world, that must be it, and that must be all.

“ ‘Tell I tried to love somebody.’ Words from the Black emancipator of enslaved Southern white folk.”

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Dallas Lee

Dallas Lee, former writer and editor for The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, retired as a speechwriter from Bank of America. He is author of The Cotton Patch Evidence: The Story of Clarence Jordan and the Koinonia Farm Experiment (Harper & Row 1971).