Madison County Opinion...

 August 2, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
August 2, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Liberals put wedge between the races
Last week I had a highly enjoyable experience that reminded me of a truth about the South that is largely ignored.
I learned that one of my black neighbors was preparing a fund-raising barbecue to benefit his church. As a part of the meal, he was cooking a pot of old-fashioned country hash. He told me that only two people know the recipe for his hash and they learned it from his grandfather. Those of you who know me know that I was sure to show up for that meal!
Country hash is made from finely ground beef and chicken, along with vegetables and spices. The recipe is then cooked overnight in a large cast iron wash pot. Most rural families have their own recipe for the secondary ingredients. Hash from each family will have slight differences, but the basic flavor of beef and chicken is always predominant.
While the hash served to me was cooked from a secret recipe, it was similar to that cooked by members of my own family. So was the barbecue and the homemade cake. And it was logical that it would be so. After all, traditional rural Southerners, black and white, share a similar culture.
In the aftermath of slavery, and the devastation of Reconstruction, most rural Southerners were left in a state of poverty. We all had to learn to make do with what we had. We all found it necessary to use everything available to us to feed, clothe and house our families. And we all found the same methods of solving those problems. As a result, rural Southerners, black and white, have more in common than we have that separates us.
Surviving the poverty of the post-war South required that our ancestors learn to be resourceful, versatile and hardworking. They soon learned that they could survive in the face of any difficulty. They learned to look to their families and neighbors to help when they ran into problems too difficult to solve alone.
Thus arose the Southern principles of personal responsibility, family loyalty and duty to the community. These principles are the basis of today's conservative philosophy. If you go among rural Southerners, black and white, you will find these conservative ideals are still strong, and there lies the problem with those who support big government liberalism.
A group of radical left politicians are using the old "divide and conquer" technique in an effort to force their big government ideals on a conservative South. The easiest way to divide Southerners is along racial lines. They believe that by forcing a wedge between black and white Southerners, they can prevent us from working together to promote self-reliance, family values and communitybased government. They then declare that only big government liberal policies can solve the problems they help to create.
Therefore, rather than seek ways for communities to solve problems such as educational failure, unwed mothers, lack of work skills and cooperation between people of all races and colors, these groups devote tremendous energy toward disrupting our area with attacks on Southern symbols. Rather than encouraging Southerners to solve community problems, they create racial animosity. They do everything they can to keep us from discovering just how alike we are.
Southern blacks and whites know each other well. We share the same love of God, love of family and love of community. If we are left alone, we will quickly develop close ties between the races and work together to build strong individuals, strong families and strong communities.
If the radical left politicians of all races will just leave us alone, we will get along just fine, thank you.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.

Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
August 2, 2000

In Other Words

The concrete is slowly creeping
It's 95 degrees on a Friday, my car has no air conditioning and I'm stuck in a traffic jam because there's only one lane open on the highway due to construction.
And I'm in Madison County.
While I was living in cities like New Orleans, Atlanta and Jacksonville in my pre-teen years, Madison County was a rural haven for my family when we came to visit our relatives - an escape from the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded urban existence.
Now that I see a four-lane highway, Hwy. 72, being constructed right through the heart of the county, I can't help but see it as a subtle turning point in the county's history.
The concrete is slowly creeping.
I stole that line from a lesser-known Lynyrd Skynyrd song, "All I can do is write it in a song," in which the Southern rock outfit talks about the disappearance of the rural landscape in an acoustic ballad. (And if you have the band's "Essential Skynyrd" greatest hits album, the track is number 10 on the second disc - give it a listen.)
But that line seems to epitomize what is going on in the county.
It seems like dirt is constantly being dug up and the asphalt is steadily making its push eastward. What started west of Hull on Hwy. 72 has now stretched all the way to Colbert.
But this is just a sign of changing times in my opinion. The county is receiving that constant urban push from Athens and the widening of the highway is just one of the first steps in the county's facelift.
Now, I'm not a home-grown product of Madison County, although my roots do lie here, but the simplicity of the county's rural backdrop has always been appealing to me.
From Watson's Mill State Park to the ole' courthouse in Danielsville to a hay field in the outskirts of Comer to downtown Ila, Madison County has a look and character all its own, as do many of the communities that dot the country backdrop of Northeast Georgia.
And much of the county was connected by what used to be a sleepy, two-lane highway that ran along the railroad tracks.
But as the concrete and construction enter the county as seen on Hwy. 72, I believe that unique flavor will begin to wither. It's a tradeoff that comes with getting bigger; you get assimilated with the masses.
Now, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with growth and construction (be sure you read that sentence).
Population increase is inevitable and creates a definite need for four-lane highways and more convenience stores and gas stations, etc.
But it is a coming-of-age sort of thing, as the county is at the onset of leaving the "old days" behind.
You see, after living in large cities and now living in Athens, where traffic is backed up a quarter of a mile down Macon Hwy., you develop an appreciation for the simpler things in life. That's what Madison County represents to me - rolling fields, grazing cows, town squares and ole' country roads.
But as one highway becomes widened, so will another; as one dirt road is paved, so will follow another. What has to be done will be done. And one day that separation between Athens and Madison County will be something of the past.
The change of course will not be overnight, but I think it is definitely on the horizon.
And the concrete is slowly creeping.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal
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