Not Too Busy To Be
Cason Award Cites Flynt's Writing, Willingness To Be an
Wayne Flynt, who taught at Samford from 1965 until 1977,
is distinguished university professor at Auburn.
If history is a discipline to be spent in the solitary confines
of an archive, why have so many historians involved themselves
as public policy advocates?
Samford graduate Wayne Flynt '61, an eminent historian himself,
cites such names as George Bancroft (the nation's first historian),
Woodrow Wilson, W. E. B. DuBois, William E. Dodd, and, more
recently, Arthur Schlesinger, C. Vann Woodward, John Hope
Franklin, George McGovern, Mary Frances Berry and others as
These were historian/ activists whose work seemed to ask
of American society, "How did we get in this mess?"
Flynt said recently. "Or perhaps more importantly, how
do we get out of this mess and make sure it doesn't happen
Flynt was the featured speaker March 13 at the annual banquet
for the Clarence Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing in Tuscaloosa,
where he was the 2002 honoree.
Former Cason winners include New York Times executive editor
and Pulitzer Prize winner Howell Raines, Pulitzer Prize-winning
biologist Edward O. Wilson, and writers Gay Talese and Albert
Murray. The University of Alabama presents the award in memory
of its journalism school founder, author of the groundbreaking
1935 book, 90 Degrees in the Shade.
Particularly where the state of Alabama is concerned, Flynt might
have added his own name to the activist roster. It was his impressive
body of writing-12 books, numerous articles and newspaper op-ed
pieces-that prompted his selection. His book, Poor But Proud,
won the 1990 Lillian Smith Award as the best work in Southern history.
Like other historian/ activists, Flynt has worked to shed light
on such problems as poverty, illiteracy, a regressive tax system,
sub-par public education and the need for constitutional reform
in his state.
"The stakes are pretty high," he told his audience. "Do
you want to live in a state as sorrily governed as this one?"
Flynt said Alabamians have four choices. They can get out of the
state, stay and fight to make it better, join the special interests
and become part of the problem or "the option I respect least
of all: the people who are simply too busy to be bothered."
He described the latter group as "well-meaning and likeable,
vaguely aware that something is amiss, wishing that someone would
do something to make it all better . . . [but] too busy with their
research or teaching or Sunday School or golf tournament or Junior
League or professional society or garden club to figure out what
all the uproar is about."
For this group, said Flynt, "there is this very appropriate
epitaph from the 1920s for an earlier 'Lost Generation': 'Here were
busy, godless people, their only monument a thousand miles of asphalt
and a hundred lost golf balls.'"
Alumna Christine Wallace, Retired Teacher, Leaves Samford $277,000
Samford University received a $277,000 gift from the estate of
alumna Christine Murdock Wallace, who earned her Samford degree
by attending night school while holding a full-time job at a local
Wallace enrolled in her first Samford class in 1952, when she was
36. Seven years later, in May of 1959, she completed a bachelor
of arts degree. The following fall, she joined the faculty of Shades
Valley High School in Birmingham, teaching business and bookkeeping
courses. She taught there until retirement in 1981.
From Boaz, Wallace also attended Alabama College, now the University
of Montevallo, during the 1930s. She taught at Massey Business College
from 1945 until 1958.
"She was a reserved lady but had a very dry wit," recalled
Samford trustee James Stivender '49 of Gadsden, who served as her
attorney until his retirement in 1996. "She had a real interest
in Samford University."
Her gift will be used to endow scholarships "for deserving
students," according to the terms of her will.
Following retirement from Shades Valley, Wallace returned to Boaz,
where she owned rental property and other real estate inherited
from her parents and one sister. She managed these properties and
was active in First Baptist Church of Boaz. She died at age 84 in
"She was interested in supporting Baptist causes and left
the bulk of her estate for that purpose," said attorney Jim
Inzer of Gadsden, who handled the estate.