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In 'Shaking The Gates Of Hell,' John Archibald Confronts Father's Silence From Pulpit In Civil Rights Era

John Archibald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist, was born 11 days before Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

John Archibald photo
Photo by Paul Blutter

At the time, Archibald’s father was a Methodist minister in Alabama, loved by his congregations and loved by his son. But when Archibald discovered a trove of his dad’s old sermons, he realized that his father had been mostly silent on the civil rights movement that was changing the world right under his nose.

That revelation led Archibald to write his new book, "Shaking the Gates of Hell," which attempts to untangle what Archibald learned about his father with what he still loves about him. That’s something that resonated with me, and maybe it will with some of y’all, too.

By the way: I don’t want to give away too much, but this episode of SouthBound has a post-credits sequence —just like those Marvel movies! Stick around to the very end … especially if you’re a college football fan.

Show notes:

Other music in this episode:

  • Dee Yan-Key, "Go Down Moses"
  • Yusuke Tsutsumi, "Heaven"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary that airs every Monday. He's the author of "The Elephant in the Room," a memoir about life as an overweight man in a growing America. He spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. He has also written for publications including Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Garden & Gun. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and was a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte.