the lonely days were sundays

The Lonely Days Were Sundays: Reflections of a Jewish Southerner (University of Mississippi; 1994) is a collection of essays by Eli N. Evans.

Evans is a Southern historian and master storyteller raised in Durham, North Carolina. What a life lived. He was the first Jewish student body president of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Navy veteran. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s speechwriter. In the late 1960s, he developed the Earl Warren Legal Training Program, a venture among foundations and law schools with the primary goal of expanding the pool of African American lawyers. As Evans put it, “We understood that if one could increase the number of black lawyers, one could make a significant contribution to the future of the country.” Truth. According to a 1973 Carnegie Corporation report, there were 13 million African Americans in all of the American South and just 9 African American lawyers in Mississippi. Yes, nine.

Evans was a Carnegie Corporation Program Officer in 1974 when he authored the introduction to A Step Toward Equal Justice: Programs to Increase Black Lawyers in the South 1969-1973. Evans wrote:

The 350-year contest for the soul of the South will not end suddenly, but with a long process of healing. A strong, vital, black community lending the minds and talents of its people to the South of the future, remains the key to regional vitality and a national reconciliation. White Southerners are discovering that truth in Atlanta and Raleigh and dozens of other cities across the South where they are helping vote black officials into office. The passions of southern history are still present and can explode into violence at any moment. Yet, in so many ways, it is today the most optimistic section of America, for black people are seeing new faces in the city halls and young black attorneys in the court houses.

In October 2011, Ford’s Theater held a discussion on Jews and race relations in the South, and Evans served as one of three panelists with Cynthia Tucker as moderator. It’s about 1 hour and 20 minutes in length. Appreciated it so much I watched it twice (thank you, C-SPAN). To read up about The Lonely Days Were Sundays, head on over to here.