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Not Too Busy To Be

Cason Award Cites Flynt's Writing, Willingness To Be an Activist

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 examples.

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 again?"

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 business college.

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 2000.

"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.

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Maintained by University Relations. Last updated: June 18, 2002

Spring 2002
Vol. 19, No. 1

Seasons Staff

William Nunnelley
Mary Wimberley
Associate Editor
Jack Brymer
Contributing Writer
Sean Flynt
Contributing Writer
Scott Camp
Multimedia Graphic Designer
Donna Fitch
Web Designer & Editor
Janica York
Editorial Assistant
Caroline Baird Summers

Samford University Alumni Association Officers 2002-03

Bennie Bumpers '63
Sonya Bumpers '63

Tom Armstrong '73
Vice President

Brooke Dill Stewart '95

Seasons is published quarterly by Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, and is distributed free to all alumni of the University, as well as to other friends. Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes applications for employment and educational programs from all individuals regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or national or ethnic origin.