Integration in a Deep-Southern Town
With a Foreword by Jennifer Jensen Wallach
and an Afterword by JoAnne Prichard Morris
A civil rights classic, available again
republication of Yazoo offers a powerful, cautionary
tale for those who insist the nation has transcended its historic
racial divide. In the tradition of other notable southern
transplants—James Weldon Johnson, Richard Wright, Taylor
Branch, and C. Vann Woodward—Morris writes perceptively
about the tortured interaction between white supremacy and
black self-preservation. Yazoo masterfully combines
subjective reflection with objective reporting."
—Steven Lawson, professor emeritus, Rutgers University,
and author of Civil Rights Crossroads
who have never read Yazoo will benefit from this
new edition for two special reasons: Jennifer Jensen Wallach’s
introduction, which provides useful historical perspective,
and an afterword by JoAnne Prichard Morris, the author’s
widow, which gives us a personal portrait of the man during
his last years back home in Mississippi. The book itself is
a classic portrayal of the South’s barbarism flailing
against its enduring humanity."
—Roy Reed, retired New York Times civil rights reporter
and author of the forthcoming memoir Beware of Limbo Dancers
Brown v. Board of Education was sixteen years old,
and fifteen years had passed since the Brown II mandate that
schools integrate “with all deliberate speed.”
Still, after all this time, it was necessary for the U.S.
Supreme Court to order thirty Mississippi school districts—whose
speed had been anything but deliberate—to integrate
immediately. One of these districts included Yazoo City, the
hometown of writer Willie Morris.
productively on “safe, sane Manhattan Island,”
Morris, though compelled to write about this pivotal moment,
was reluctant to return to Yazoo and do no less than serve
as cultural ambassador between the flawed Mississippi that
he loved and a wider world. “I did not want to go back,”
Morris wrote. “I finally went home because the urge
to be there during Yazoo’s most critical moment was
too elemental to resist, and because I would have been ashamed
of myself if I had not.”
Yazoo, is part reportage, part memoir, part ethnography,
part social critique—and one of the richest accounts
we have of a community’s attempt to come to terms with
the realities of seismic social change. As infinitely readable
and nuanced as ever, Yazoo is available again, enhanced
by an informative foreword by historian Jenifer Jensen Wallach
and a warm and personal afterword on Morris’s writing
life by his widow, JoAnne Prichard Morris.
Morris (1934–1999) was the editor in
chief of Harper’s and the author of many works
of fiction and nonfiction, including North Toward Home
and My Dog Skip.
Jensen Wallach is the author of Closer
to the Truth than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow,
a study of how memoirs can best be utilized as historical
source material. She is also editor of Arsnick:
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas.
Prichard Morris was long-time executive editor
of the University Press of Mississippi and coauthor of Barefootin’:
Life Lessons from the Road to Freedom. She was married
to Willie Morris from 1990 to 1999.
5 x 8, 240 pages
$19.95 (s) paper