The Stem of Jesse: The Costs of Community at a 1960s Southern School

Will D. Campbell, Author Mercer University Press $25 (212p) ISBN 978-0-86554-449-9
Campbell (Brother to a Dragonfly) was a noted activist (``Brother Will'') during the civil rights movement, and his personal style-part historian, part preacher-pervades this idiosyncratic study of integration at Baptist Mercer Univ. in Macon, Ga. Campbell proceeds nonlinearly, beginning with reminiscences from the ``white'' side and the ``black'' side, then interviewing a veteran Mercer professor (a white man who considers himself a Christian radical) who suggets that integration has been a failure ``throughout the land.'' Next comes a more conventional historical narrative, recounting how Mercer president Rufus Harris helped engineer the admission of a Ghanaian student, Sam Oni, in 1963; the protests against that decision; and Oni's barring from the local Baptist church. He also details the subsequent efforts to recruit and support black students, and, in a ``composite'' story, the arrival of drugs and the counterculture on campus. The book concludes with an account of a 1994 Mercer reunion in which Campbell-not a Mercerian but a white Southerner burdened by guilt-asks the finally returning Oni for forgiveness. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994
Release date: 10/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-86554-856-5
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