Albert Murray Tribute
Join us Thursday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. for a special Six Bridges Presents panel discussion celebrating the 50th anniversary of Albert Murray’s memoir, South to a Very Old Place, which was selected for the prestigious Modern Library series as a contemporary classic in 1995 and was the subject of a recent exhibition at the American Writers Museum in Chicago.
Registration on the free Zoom platform is required.
Albert L. Murray (May 12, 1916 – August 18, 2013) was an American literary and music critic, novelist, essayist, and biographer. His books include The Omni-Americans, South to a Very Old Place, and Stomping the Blues.
South to a Very Old Place (1971)
The highly acclaimed novelist and biographer Albert Murray tells his classic memoir of growing up in Alabama during the 1920s and 1930s in South to a Very Old Place. Intermingling remembrances of youth with engaging conversation, African-American folklore, and astute cultural criticism, it is at once an intimate personal journey and an incisive social history, informed by “the poet’s language, the novelist’s sensibility, the essayist’s clarity, the jazzman’s imagination, the gospel singer’s depth of feeling” (The New Yorker).
“His perceptions are firmly based in the blues idiom, and it is black music no less than literary criticism and historical analysis that gives his work its authenticity, its emotional vigor and its tenacious hold on the intellect … [It] destroys some fashionable sociopolitical interpretations of growing up black.” – Toni Morrison, The New York Times Book Review
Benji de la Piedra is an oral historian and educator who teaches in UALR’s Public History MA program. Currently a Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center, he is working on a book about Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison’s relevance to debates about the role and craft of journalists in the George Floyd protest moment. He is also working on a biography of the Little Rock-raised Washington Post journalist Herbert Denton Jr, and will be reviving the Herbert Denton Community History Project in 2022.
Carolyn Jones Medine is Professor in the Religion Department and in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. She has one co-edited book, Teaching African American Religions, with Theodore Trost (Oxford University Press) and has written numerous articles.
Paul Devlin is Associate Professor of English at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Book Review Editor of African American Review. With Henry Louis Gates, Jr., he is co-editor of the Library of America’s Albert Murray: Collected Essays and Memoirs (2016) and Albert Murray: Collected Novels and Poems (2018). The former book contains the most recent edition of South to a Very Old Place, annotated therein for the first time. Paul was also the consultant to the American Writers Museum in Chicago for its interactive exhibition on South to a Very Old Place.
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.
Lewis P. Jones III is Managing Principal and Co-Founder at 5 Stone Green Capital and Albert Murray’s literary executor.