“Sweet Home Alabama” (Kevin Riley)

“Sweet Home Alabama”

Alabama is one of the most southern states in the United States, geographically and metaphorically, and it is on the receiving end of many, many stereotypical jokes; however, to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama is home. The song dedicated to their “home” (despite being from Florida) paints a very pretty picture of the state. The song gives Alabama a positive image and a homely feel. The chorus of the song describes Alabama’s skies as being “so blue,” and several times the singer says he is “coming home,” he’s seeing his family, and he misses Alabama, assumably from being on tour as evidenced by the beginning lines “big wheels keep on turnin’/carry me home to see my kin.” In this song, the negative perceptions of Alabama are also referenced in the second verse. The second verse begins with the line “well I heard Mr. Young sing about her,” which references the artist Neil Young making two songs criticizing the South and Alabama, and ends with “a Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow,” showing that they recognize the criticisms but do not embrace them. It is believed that the lines of this verse are referring to the fact that a true Southern man despises the institutionalized racism of the South and does not want to be generalized as racist due to the institution as a whole. In the third verse, there is another reference to the governor of Alabama in the 1960’s who openly opposed desegregation, but immediately following this reference, there is a chorus of people singing “Boo! Boo! Boo!” in protest of the governor. Lynyrd Skynyrd clearly does not want to be associated with the stereotype of Alabama being a major center for racism, which is the image people like Neil Young associate it with. This song highlights positive parts of the South (family, home, the pretty sky/good weather) while also refuting the negative stereotype put upon them because of their surroundings.

La Rosca de Reyes/King Cake (Kevin Riley)

In Mexican tradition, when Epiphany (or Día de los Reyes) is celebrated, twelve days after Christmas, it is usually celebrated with the “king cake.” It is a ring-shaped cake that contains variously colored fruit candies. It is in the shape of a ring to symbolize the Wise Men’s search for the King of the Jews. It also contains a specific surprise that makes it stand out from other normal traditional desserts. Somewhere inside the cake, there is a small figurine (or multiple figurines) that symbolizes a newborn Jesus, which is another part of the symbolism of the Wise Men’s search. Whoever gets a slice of the cake with a figurine inside must bring or make the food (usually tamales) for the next family gathering, which is most likely to happen on February 2nd, Día de la Candelaria. Whoever does not have the figurine inside gets to enjoy the gathering, and they do not have to make or bring any food. The king cake also has significance in New Orleans during Mardi Gras season. In New Orleans, a king cake can be found in many bakeries usually from early January, usually at the start of Carnival, January 6th. In this tradition, the king cake is made out of coffee cake and cinnamon, and then topped with cream cheese as opposed to Mexican tradition in which it is made out of sweet bread and candied fruits. The New Orleans version is most usually frosted in yellow, green, and purple which are the colors of Mardi Gras. Both traditions share the idea of the figurine. Getting the slice with the figurine is still seen as good luck, despite having to be the one to throw the next party and/or make the food.

Prof. Adam Jordan (Teacher Education)

Adam Jordan is a professor here at the College in the department of teacher education with a specialization in special education, specifically concerning behavior. He got his undergraduate degree in special education in social studies from the University of Georgia, and then went on to complete his postgraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began teaching at an alternative school in Chapel Hill for grades 6-12, but then moved to Georgia to continue teaching there. Later, he found a job opportunity in Charleston, and has been here since then. He is a frequent contributor to The Bitter Southerner where he writes about education in the South, and he also has written multiple articles for Mouth of the South which is a blog attached to the All Y’all Social Justice Collective.

Dr. Jordan was born and raised in the South, so he has a deep connection to the area. He acknowledges that there are both good and bad things about the region, saying, “There is a duality of the South, and I like that duality.” Despite the negative stereotypes of the South, there are also many positive goods, like the fact that the Civil Rights movement started down in the South. He feels that it is important to address the issues we face, like Charleston being one of the most gentrified and racially segregated cities in the present day. He also helped found and now run the All Y’all Social Justice Collective, as mentioned previously, which is “a nonprofit focused on teacher professional development around issues of justice for teachers in the South.” Its main focus is to work with teachers for professional development, rather than “to” them and making them pay large sums of money.

— by Kevin Riley

Posting on this site

Most of you have probably posted on a WordPress blog before, but in case you haven’t: once you log in, find “Posts” in the left column, then “Add New.” From there, it’s pretty intuitive. Of course, you can paste your text in if you want to compose somewhere else. And there’s an “Add Media” button underneath the title and permalink.

Welcome to HONS 172: Intro to Southern Studies

We’re going to use this blog primarily to post a few short essays for the rest of the class to read. This blog supplements our OAKS page, but it doesn’t duplicate it.  OAKS is the command module for the course — it’s where you’ll get assignments, link to voicethreads, turn in most of your work, see your grades, etc. For more information about Southern Studies at CofC: http://southernstudies-minor.cofc.edu/