A book review by Al Benson Jr.
Recently I read Ron Kennedy’s new book When Rebel Was Cool, published by Shotwell Publishing in Columbia, South Carolina. This is a book that should touch the average reader on many levels. It is a poignant story the Kennedy Brothers, Ron and Donnie’s “growing up years” from 1950-1965. Being only nine years older than the Kennedy Brothers I found myself comparing my “growing up years” to theirs.
They grew up in rural South Mississippi in a time when the results of Yankee “reconstruction” in the South had not quite worn off yet–100 years after the War of Northern Aggression I was in parts of the South in the late 1950s and so I can attest to the results of Yankee “reconstruction” in that part of the country.
Ron explained why he wrote this book, and I can identify with his reasons. He wrote: “These stories and photographs–some over 100 years old and in poor condition–are our stories written for our grandchildren and all the grandchildren of the South, even if they no longer live in the South. One day our grandchildren may want to know why their grandfathers loved the South so much, especially during a time when the leftwing secular world is actively engaged in destroying Confederate monuments and viciously slandering the honor of the men who wore the gray in the War for Southern Independence…I hope and pray that one day our grandchildren and other Southern grandchildren will read these accounts, otherwise they will never know the truth–a truth that sadly, today, is not allowed to be publicly told.”
My grandchildren have always lived in the North. Only the oldest one has been in the South–but I want them to know these truths as well so they will not embrace the Marxist lies told about the good people of the South.
Ron dealt with many issues in this book and gives you an accurate picture of much that went on in the South during his growing up years. His comments on racial segregation are some you will never read in Yankee “history” books–but they are true nonetheless. On page 18 he noted: “Today, most Americans think that segregation (white supremacy) was something established in the South, but in reality, it was something already established in the North and then, after the
War, imported from the North. During the War, Yankee General ‘Beast’ Butler established ‘Black Codes’ in occupied Louisiana. His ‘Black Codes’ were based upon similar laws then in effect in his home state of Massachusetts. Most Americans incorrectly think that slavery was strictly a Southern issue, but in reality, it was an American issue–the North being primarily responsible for slavery in America. Very few folks know that slavery lasted 75 years longer in Massachusetts than it did in Mississippi.” And he commented also that “…Massachusetts and other Northern states earned much of their wealth from their involvement in the African slave trade and then enacted exclusion laws to prevent free blacks from coming into their states!”
Ron also commented on life in the rural South and said some things I, as growing up in semi-rural Eastern Massachusetts could identify with. He mentioned the three-room rural school house he and Donnie attended and how it had no inside gym, only playground equipment in the school yard. The first school house I attended had only four rooms, for grades 1-4, and the next school house I went to had only six rooms and no inside gym, only playground equipment in the school yard
Ron mentioned the kids, as they got older, taking guns to school so they could go hunting after school was out and when they got older and drove to school there was often a rifle rack in the back window of the truck that was driven to school–and no one shot a people on the way home from school. Today many parents would be alarmed at this, but in those days there were seldom any problems. Nowadays kids get arrested for bringing a toy gun to school for “show and tell” or if they even point their finger at another kid and say “bang.” We have gone from responsibility to sheer panic–and mostly over nothing!
Ron also noted something else that struck a familiar chord with me–wild berry picking in the Summer. Many rural Southern folks did this because it helped to put food on the table. My Grandfather, Dad and I often picked wild blueberries in the Summer–not because we had to, but because my Grandmother was a good cook and made delicious pies.
The South has often been called “The Bible Belt” because it is the area of the country where the Christian faith is most evident and where more folks go to church than in other areas. And to get through the Yankee “reconstruction” and the really hard times that followed it Southern folks had to have a strong faith in the Lord to see them through. Life in the post-war South was not easy, nor was it easy for the next hundred years! And, here, Ron had a warning for Christian folks. He said: “It is a sad fact of history that when a people are struggling during hard times or when outside tyrants oppress their nation the people tend to ‘look to God’ for comfort, guidance and help. But once freedom is won or prosperity returns, these same people (or the next generation) tend to ignore the very God who sustained them during the hard times. I fear that this is happening to the South just as it happened to God’s people of Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament.” There is a warning for us here today–if we will but heed it! Ron noted on page 57 the apostasy that engulfed the North in the decades before the War and how many religious leaders in the South saw the War as a spiritual struggle. There was definitely that aspect to it–and it has never been dealt with by our “historians.” Ron discussed the differences between Northern and Southern cultures on page 93.
He commented on the Civil Rights Movement on page 144 and how it was resisted by Southern folks not because they hated blacks but because it was something being pushed and promoted by the federal government–the same federal government the fought against their ancestors and pushed “reconstruction” down their throats.
And he noted on page 150 how much of the so-called “history” and commentary in our day is employed as a ‘divide and conquer” strategy to divide the races off against one another so they will not realize that they have more in common than what separates them and that keeps them from working together against globalist politicians who plan to do both races in one way or another.
Toward the end of the book Ron had a chapter called How to Speak Southern Redneck words and phrases and I really enjoyed this. It is a compendium of colloquial Southern phrases, many of which, surprisingly, I also heard growing up in the North. Quite a few of these were used in my own family in my growing up years and were familiar to me. I don’t know if they originated in the South and made their way to the North or what, but I sure heard a batch of them from both family and friends growing up.
There is much more in Ron’s book than I could ever cover in a book review. I have only touched on some of the high spots and areas that struck me personally. Reading it caused me to think back to my own childhood and to the hard times we had when I was growing up, We were not “punished with poverty” as the South was, but life was not always easy street for us either.
Maybe some of us older folks need to read this and then call it to the attention of our grandchildren so they will possibly begin to get a glimpse of what life was like for us “back in the day” and what it may end up being like for them again if they refuse to heed the warning signs about the direction we seem to be headed in.