A series of three new multimedia e-Books that focus on three little known historical events that helped define South Carolina in the last century are now available. All three were written by Frank Beacham.
The three separate eBooks, published by Vook in New York City, combine video, audio, photographs and text in a new kind of storytelling that work on a range if e-Book readers and personal computers (iPad, Kindle, Nook, Macintosh and PC). This state-of-the-art storytelling technology is available across platforms the first time this year.
The first e-Book, Charlie’s Place, examines the remarkable interracial collaboration in the segregated post-World War II years that led to the creation of South Carolina’s official state music (beach music) and dance (the shag).
The second e-Book, The Legacy of the Orangeburg Massacre, deals with the nearly 50-year legacy of the Orangeburg Massacre. The story centers on the killing of black college students in 1968 at South Carolina State College and the state’s continuing cover-up of the facts surrounding the shootings.
The third e-Book, Mill Town Murder, is the author’s personal story of his grandfather’s involvement in the killing of seven mill workers in his hometown of Honea Path during the Textile Strike of 1934.
“Powerful forces have shaped and defined a sanitized version of Southern history,” said author Frank Beacham, now a New York City-based writer and media producer. “These eBooks, born of the frustration of learning more about my own history growing up in South Carolina, became an attempt to meet these distortions head-on by exploring my memories and answering some lingering questions.
“For years I have been collecting video, audio and photographs relating to these stories,” Beacham continued. “Now, for the first time, the technology exists to put all these elements together in a compelling way to tell their stories in a fuller way.”
The result of the Beacham’s work are three compelling new multimedia e-Books that destroy carefully constructed myths to reveal three extraordinary events that many influential Southerners would just as soon forget.
In addition to the three new multimedia e-Books, a new third print edition of Whitewash: A Southern Journey through Music, Mayhem and Murder by Frank Beacham (ISBN:1591131871, Price: $15.00) has been released. The new edition of the print book contains all the updates for the three stories found in the individual multimedia e-Books without the audio, video and photographs. It can be purchased or ordered through major retail book outlets or online at: http://www.booklocker.com/books/939.html/.
In Charlie’s Place, Beacham tells the true story of the Ku Klux Klan's violent attempt in South Carolina in the post World War II years to stop dirty dancing and kill the emerging black music behind it—rhythm & blues.
He describes how a handful of adventurous young black & white dancers—with the help of a fearless black nightclub owner—risked life and limb in an era of racial segregation to create a bold new dance and an enduring Southern musical legacy. For the first time, the reader can see and hear these dance pioneers tell the story in their own words.
Included in the new multimedia edition are audio and video interviews and clips with such notables as Jerry Wexler, John R, Hoss Allen, Marion Carter, Leon Williams, George Lineberry, Harry Driver, Chicken Hicks, Bill Pinkney, Clarice Reavis, Bill Wingate, Billy Jeffers, Maurice Williams and Clifford Curry. There are also dozens of photographs included in the publication.
The new eBook and print versions also contain newly updated material from FBI records that offer far greater detail to the story than in previous editions.
The story evolved from a series of recorded interviews by the Beacham with many of the key figures credited with the creation of South Carolina’s state dance, the shag, and the state’s music, a sub-genre of rhythm and blues now called Carolina “beach music.”
In a vivid and newly detailed description, Beacham reconstructs the violent armed assault in 1950 by the Ku Klux Klan in an attempt to shut down “Charlie’s Place,” an influential Myrtle Beach night club where white and black dancers shared the dance floor and helped create what is now called the shag. The violence sprang from the aftermath of one of the state’s most openly racist political campaigns, the 1950 U.S. Senate election between Strom Thurmond and Olin D. Johnston.
“Young black and white South Carolinians—in a time of segregation—put their lives on the line to defy the state’s white establishment and create a genuine musical legacy,” said Beacham. “An irony is that South Carolina’s government officials made the shag and beach music the official dance and music of the state without even understanding or noting it’s remarkable historical significance.”
Over the years, Beacham said, the state’s music and dance has almost completely been co-opted by Southern whites, leaving a new generation of blacks unaware of the cultural phenomenon they helped create. “It is sad that many young blacks in South Carolina have rejected beach music and the shag because they think the music has white-only roots. Years of racism and a lack of education have helped erase one of South Carolina’s most notable creative accomplishments,” Beacham said.
An act of racism in a small college town leads to peaceful protest by frustrated black students. The governor, elected on a platform of racial moderation, responds with a vast show of armed force. Each side misreads the other, escalating the conflict. Then, in a peak of emotional frenzy, nine white highway patrolmen open fire on the students. In less than ten seconds, the campus turns into a bloodbath.
Over four days in early February, 1968, this scenario played out in Orangeburg. On the final day, three black students were killed and 27 others wounded when the lawmen sprayed deadly buckshot onto the campus of South Carolina State College. Most of the students, in retreat at the time, were shot from the rear—some in the back, others in the soles of their feet. None carried weapons.
The killings occurred in a southern state heralded for its record of nonviolence during the civil rights era. In attempt to preserve its carefully-cultivated image of racial harmony, a web of official deceptions was created to distort the facts and conceal the truth about what happened in Orangeburg. The state's young governor, Robert E. McNair, claimed the deaths were the result of a two-way gun battle between students and lawmen. The highway patrolmen insisted their shooting was done in self-defense—to protect themselves from an attacking mob of students.
At first, the state’s cover-up worked. Later, it unraveled. Now, after nearly 50 years, the story of Orangeburg continues to simmer unresolved in a twilight zone of blame and denial. Author Frank Beacham, a young reporter at WIS-TV in Columbia at the time of the shooting in 1968, re-examines “a story whose significance I totally missed at the time.”
Beacham asks why, after so many years, does an aggressive effort continue in South Carolina to hide and distort the role of former Gov. McNair and his white state police in the 1968 killing of three black college students in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He found the answers—many on video and audio in this new eBook—disturbing.
The e-Book contains interviews with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former Gov. Robert McNair, Cleveland Sellers, Jordan Simmons, Gladys Simmons-Suddeth, Nat Abraham, Rhett Jackson, Former Gov. John West, George Dean, the first black S.C. National Guardsman, Fred Mott, Rep. Bakari Sellers and survivors of the Orangeburg shooting.
“The Orangeburg Massacre is a complex Southern epic that contains the essential elements of the best of Shakespeare’s plays,” Beacham noted. “The continuing silence in the aftermath of the killing is perhaps one of the most revealing and important historical stories of modern South Carolina and very deep dive into the basics of Southern culture.”
On the morning of September 6, 1934, in the tiny town of Honea Path, South Carolina, friends and neighbors came to blows in a labor dispute. When it was over, seven people were dead and 30 others wounded.
The bloody riot at the town's cotton mill on that warm Thursday morning shaped the lives of two generations to follow—not because of the shock of what was known, but by what was unknown. Fear, threats and intimidation were used to silence the story of the greatest tragedy in the town's history.
For 60 years, the story of a mass killing in a small town was successfully erased, not only from the history books, but from the public consciousness of those people most affected by it. An instrument of fear—so powerful that parents were afraid to tell the story to their own children—formed a lifelong social contract for entire community's survival.
Ironically, Honea Path’s secret was finally revealed in a way the architects of its original cover-up could have never imagined: a video documentary made by three socially-conscious New York City filmmakers who unraveled the secret after rummaging through old letters from townspeople to President Franklin Roosevelt.
Yet, even after the truth was exposed in 1995, the story took another strange twist. South Carolina's intensely pro-business establishment, still heavily influenced by the region's textile industry, tried to suppress the documentary, first by banning it from broadcast on its state-supported television system and then by making it difficult for people to see in public places.
Author Frank Beacham grew up in Honea Path. His mother was the town's history teacher. His grandfather, he was to learn, organized the posse of gunmen who fired on their fellow workers in 1934. Yet, only in his 46th year did he finally learn the deeper secrets that haunted Honea Path and the painful truth about his own family and the destructive series of events that distorted the perceptions he held of his childhood home.
In this compelling story, we hear the last living shooting victim, Williams Andrew Smith, tell Beacham that his grandfather lied about being at the mill when the violence occurred. In fact, Smith said, Dan Beacham was standing over him as he lay bleeding on the ground. An aunt, Hazel Beacham, confronts the writer about supporting the men his grandfather fought against, and we hear Beacham’s compelling appearance on a local radio station that turned the town around to support a memorial for the workers.
Mill Town Murder introduces a song about the shooting, Honea Path, by Matthew Grimm and features other interviews with Fred Moore,Tom Johnson, Sue Cannon Hill, Lydie Pinson, Mack Duncan and Jesse Mae Holder.
In this compelling story, we hear the last living shooting victim tell Beacham that his grandfather lied about being at the mill when the violence occurred. He, in fact, the man said, was standing over him as he lay bleeding on the ground. An aunt confronts the writer in audio about supporting the men his grandfather fought against, and we hear Beacham’s appearance on a local radio station that turned the town around to support a memorial for the workers.
“Each of these stories confronted me in different stages of my life. After carefully researching each story, I came to realize that each continues to live and remain fiercely unresolved for a reason,” said Beacham. “Elaborate efforts have been made to distort and misrepresent each story and to omit it from the state’s official history. Perhaps the reason for this, I found, is because these stories share cultural attributes that go back to the antebellum South: stubbornness, pride, honor and denial.”
The e-Books, priced at $9.99 each, are available at Apple’s iTunes, Amazon’s Kindle book store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store. It can also be bought directly from the store at Vook at http://store.vook.com/ and read online there on Macintosh and PC platforms.