Kimberly Marlowe Harnett, author of Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care about Jews, the South, and Civil Rights, will talk about the book next week at the Russell Special Collections Libraries.
Harnett’s presentation will begin Wednesday, March 16, at 1 p.m. in the auditorium of the Russell Building. It is open free to the public and a reception will follow.
Harry Golden (1903-1981) was a Jew, a writer, a humorist, and a fearless advocate for civil rights. He exposed racism and anti-Semitism in all guises, and he did so with wit and originality. After his immigrant childhood on the Lower East Side and a stint on Wall Street in the 1920s (closely followed by prison time in Atlanta for fraud), Golden landed in Charlotte, N.C., in the 1940s. There he launched his quirky newspaper, the Carolina Israelite, which led to his first book, Only in America, a record-breaking bestseller in 1958. More than 20 popular books followed, along with a syndicated column, and an enormous national audience from the 1950s to the ’70s.
“Golden was a pop-culture star, unabashed self-promoter, very funny, and essentially a blogger before the Internet existed — and was recognized by many of the civil rights movement’s leaders as an effective ally,” Hartnett said.
In the 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. cited Golden as one of a small number of whites who wrote in “eloquent, prophetic, and understanding terms” about the civil rights struggle.
Hartnett’s presentation will use portions of the 1966 television documentary, “The World of Harry Golden,” made for National Educational Television by WGTV’s film and television production unit at the Georgia Center. The film is preserved by the UGA Libraries’ Walter J. Brown Media Archives, a sponsor of this presentation, and is available to view ahead of the book talk in streaming form on their website: http://www.libs.uga.edu/media/collections/educational/gacenter.html
“I have been a fan of Harry Golden’s writings since I was a teenager so I was delighted when I saw this film among the Media Archives’ holdings,” said Margaret Compton, film archivist at the Brown Archives. “We believe this is the only documentary of this quality made about Golden. I am thrilled that Kimberly has written such an in-depth biography, long overdue, of Golden, and that she will be here to share it with us.”
The book talk is presented while an exhibit of Gordon Parks photographs is on display in the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscripts Library gallery (through March 31). “Gordon Parks Confronts the Color Line” shows photographs from Parks’ photo essay that ran in Life magazine in 1956, depicting the effects of segregation in the South two years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. This is one of a series of exhibitions installed around Athens under the umbrella “Pictures of Us: Photographs from The Do Good Fund Collection,” which is part of the Global Georgia Initiative of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.
“This Harry Golden book discussion is also a great warm up to the Athens Jewish Film Festival which runs March 19 through 22. We encourage everyone to attend the festival,” Compton said.
Parking is available at the Hull Street Parking Deck, adjacent to the special collections libraries building.