Southword is a multimedia partnership between The Oxford American and NPR to present thoughtful and textured reporting about the people, places, and trends that are shaping the modern American South. The OA's award-winning filmmaker, Dave Anderson, teams up with NPR's celebrated journalists to go wherever an important or interesting story is unfolding. Together they produce video and radio pieces that provide timely and artful perspectives on a region that continues to evolve in unexpected ways.
The crumbling Centennial Baptist Church in Helena, Ark., has deep roots in the African-American community. But poverty and other concerns in this Delta town have made raising restoration funds difficult — and the effort to keep the church in black hands has sparked tensions with local preservationists.
Many years ago, a young Chad Griffin left his hometown of Arkadelphia, Ark., to pursue a career in politics. Today, he's the newest head of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — a powerful gay rights group based in Washington, D.C.
Together with NPR, The Oxford American brings this latest installment of Southword, a series about life in the South. To learn a little bit more about what it's like to be gay below the Mason-Dixon line, we caught up with Griffin — both at his office in Washington and in his hometown of Arkadelphia, Ark., where he spent his first day on the job.
As part of our ongoing Southword partnership with NPR, we traveled with Jacki Lyden to Fort Pierce, Florida, to explore the stranger-than-fiction history of a group of black artists called "The Highwaymen." The result of the partnership is a fascinating radio series from NPR with our accompanying Southword video called "Meet Al Black" about the group's legendary salesman-cum-painter and his checkered-but-fascinating story.
The tabloid — with names such as "Cellmates," "Jailbirds," "Just Busted" — shows mug shots of those arrested every week in different cities around the country. In Arkansas, The Slammer sells 7,000 copies a week. But law enforcement says it doesn't help solve cases — it's just voyeuristic.
South Carolina's "first in the South" primary has a track record of picking the Republican presidential nominee. So you can bet the GOP contenders visit early and often. No matter who the candidate, it wouldn't be a campaign without a visit to The Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg. Candidates including Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush have lined up to order a chili-cheeseburger from blind counterman J.C. Stroble, a Beacon fixture for more than half a century.