Friday, December 06, 2013

Stephen V. Ash's "A Massacre in Memphis," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash.

The entry begins:
A lot of actors would no doubt welcome a movie version of A Massacre in Memphis, for it features a large cast of interesting characters---black and white, male and female, old and young---and many dramatic episodes and gripping action sequences.

The setting is interesting, too: a Southern city one year after the Civil War, crowded with black people reveling in their new-found freedom, former Rebels resentful of defeat and emancipation, Irish immigrants struggling to survive and be accepted in America, and Yankee newcomers endeavoring to assert federal authority, help the freed people, or just make a buck.

In May 1866, long-simmering racial tensions in Memphis boiled over, resulting in a three-day race riot in which white mobs rampaged through black neighborhoods, shooting, beating, robbing, raping, and burning. Forty-six black people were murdered and every black church and school in the city was destroyed, along with many black homes.

One of the victims was fourteen-year-old Rachel Hatcher, a talented student in one of the freed people’s schools who dreamed of becoming a teacher. During the last hours of the riot, as she was trying to rescue a neighbor from his burning house, a white man put a bullet through her head. Her mother found her body moments later, but was unable to retrieve it before flames consumed it. A good choice to portray Rachel might be Quvenzhan√© Wallis.

One of the most colorful characters in the book is the city’s affable, alcoholic, Irish-American mayor, John Park. Quite drunk throughout the riot, he made a great show of trying to stop the violence while secretly sympathizing with the rioters. I can see...[read on]
Learn more about A Massacre in Memphis at the publisher's website.

Stephen V. Ash is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Firebrand of Liberty, A Year in the South, and other books on the Civil War era.

The Page 99 Test: Firebrand of Liberty.

Writers Read: Stephen V. Ash.

The Page 99 Test: A Massacre in Memphis.

My Book, The Movie: A Massacre in Memphis.

--Marshal Zeringue