Southern Exposure Turns 20 (1993)
Vol. XXI, No. 1-2, Spring/Summer 1993
Chapter One: War and Peace
Chapter Two: Rural Life and Land
Excerpt from Forward Section:
Lyndon Johnson died in retirement and Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace the year Southern Exposure first saw the light. Johnson's presidency had marked the climax of the modern civil rights movement; Agnew's tenure cemented the racialization of national politics.
In the two decades since 1973 much of the idealism and hope that characterized the movement which produced the magazine seems to have withered away.
The young college students I teach today at a large public Southern university read each day's frightful headlines and tell me that things have never been as bad as they are now. I tell them, looking at life from a longer perspective, that things are much better now than when I was their age.
The 20 years—from 1953 to 1973 — that preceded Southern Exposure were years of great progress. For nearly all that time a nonviolent, black-led but interracial mass movement challenged white supremacy.
It wrote new laws, helped set loose a black political movement, and eliminated legal apartheid from the American South. It built a democratic movement on the theory that ordinary women and men can speak and act for themselves and that they can challenge power and wealth and win. It celebrated the culture of ordinary people.
Southern Exposure has continued and expanded the work that movement began, and if the assessment of the period from 1973 to 1993 isn't as positive as the two previous decades, it isn't because the writers and editors of this magazine haven't tried, and like the earlier movement, won some victories too.
They have used the techniques of investigative journalism and economic analysis, tracing how money corrupts a community's values as surely as it corrupts its politicians. The magazine has used its pages to expose greed and to show how some communities fought back.
Since 1973 Southern Exposure has gained critical praise for its thorough investigations, unsentimental portraits of Southern life, and public interest reporting.