Reading matters

Marker will honor civil rights activist Harry Golden

May 3, 2014 

Subscribers to the Carolina Israelite, the publication Harry Golden cranked out from his house on Charlotte’s Elizabeth Avenue, once included 20 senators, 40 House members, as well as William Faulkner, Bertrand Russell, Ernest Hemingway and Harry Truman.

How come? Because in 1954, Time magazine picked up Golden’s tongue-in-cheek Golden Vertical Plan for ending segregation in the South. The proposal recommended removing all seats from classrooms and lunch counters because, as Golden put it, integrated standing agitated people less than integrated sitting.

Four years later, the first of Golden’s 21 books, “Only in America,” became a best-seller.

The feisty New York transplant early on sensed the big story about integration was in the South, and that it could be all his. He once wrote, “As a newspaperman … I guessed and guessed correctly that the daily papers would miss the event completely, leave it alone, because to report this story meant describing the plight of the Negro.”

The unveiling of a historical marker honoring the cigar-puffing activist is Sunday at 2:30 p.m., at Hawthorne Lane and Seventh Street, a block from the house where he last lived. At 3 p.m., at Saint Martin’s Episcopal, 1510 E. Seventh St., historians Tom Hanchett and Jack Claiborne, with Thomas Cole of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, will talk about Golden, who died at 79 in 1981.

Book and author news

Jan Karon returns to Mitford – she said she never would – with an early-September release from Putnam’s, “Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good.” Retired Father Tim Kavanaugh takes on a new role as street priest in this latest novel.

Kim Wright’s early June novel, “Save Me the Waltz,” is a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and the magazine’s Pick of the Week. Wright lives in Charlotte.

Former WBTV anchor Bob Inman (“The Governor’s Wife”) is working on a play about the Revolutionary battle of Kings Mountain for the 234th anniversary of the battle. The play was commissioned by the community theater in Kings Mountain.

Hub City Press in Spartanburg, S.C., has sold Jon Sealy’s first novel, “The Whiskey Baron,” to a French publishing company. The Upstate South Carolinian sets his novel in Prohibition-era Charlotte and in a South Carolina mill village. Starred review in Kirkus. Wiley will read at 7 p.m., May 15, at Park Road Books.

N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti’s personal essays/memoir, “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless,” is a June release from Mercer University Press. Many pieces are set in Charlotte.

Hillsborough novelist Allan Gurganus (“The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”) is still at work on “Epidemic of Miracles: The Erotic History of a Country Baptist Church.” Gurganus will read from “Local Souls” at 2 p.m. May 24 at Park Road Books.

Powell: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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