In “Buried and Burned in Memphis” we first visit the controversial tomb of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a slave-trading Confederate general who became a Memphis civic leader and founded the KKK. Next stop is the former home of John Birch Society, a white supremacist organization that Dad burnt down waaaaaay back in the seventies. Last was the Bettis Family Cemetery, home of the first family to settle in Memphis.
News to none, Memphis is one of the racist capitals of the US. Many there call MLK’s birthday “James Earl Ray Day.” (He was convicted of the assassination of MLK.)
John Birch Society is a right-wing hate group that had it’s headquarters in Memphis: Anti-Jewish, immigrants, Native Americans gays. They create the Black List which ruins careers and livelihoods. They were targeting one of Dad’s personal heroes, a major musical influence, Pete Seeger. And were starting in on Kurt Vonnegut.
“I felt like we were at war.”
When he got out of jail, Dad called the head of JBS and met with him in person. It was something of an exercise, sitting peacefully across the table, having a conversation with someone you deeply disagree with.