Over the past few weeks, I have been recording and sharing the latest season of the Lillian E. Smith Center’s “Dope with Lime,” a podcast I started as an initiative for the center. For each episode, I speak with individuals about their work, Smith, and other topics. We are almost done with season two, so I wanted to take a moment and share with some of the episodes and highlights so far.
Note: the following is the short piece I wrote for the latest issue of “A View from the Mountain.”
“Dope with Lime” Description
“Dope with Lime” is a production of the Lillian E. Smith Center at Piedmont College. Through interviews with scholars, artist residents, readers, and more, “Dope with Lime” discusses Lillian E. Smith’s life, work, and continued legacy.
“Dope with Lime” was a column that Lillian E. Smith wrote in the pages of the literary journal that she co-edited with her partner Paula Snelling. Colloquially, the phrase referred to cutting the sweetness of Coca-Cola with lime juice. In her columns, Smith would us satire and bite to comment on Southern life and letters. The column was, for all intents and purposes, blog and podcast like, relaying Smith’s thoughts in a conversational and witty manner.
Episode 7: Jaleesa Harris
In this episode I spoke with Jaleesa Harris, an instructor of English at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a PhD student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, about her teaching, social justice work, and Lillian Smith’s “There Are Things to Do” from the Winter 1942-43 issue of South Today.
This is episode is important to me for a myriad of reasons, each of which are personal. For one, Jaleesa was a former student of mine when I taught English at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). We reconnected after I left ULM, and I learned that she decided to major in English and pursue her PhD. She teaches at ULM, and she has been extremely engaged with working within the community at ULM to support students, especially Black and Brown students, and working on numerous social justice causes including her work with the FemHawks (Feminists in Action at ULM).
During our conversation, we talked about her pedagogy and her work. As well, we talked about our connections to the Shreveport/Bossier area of Louisiana where we are each from. We talked about the importance of education, specifically an all-encompassing education that tells the unvarnished truth of history, and the impact that such an education will have on students and ultimately society. We recorded this episode before the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, and what we discuss in the episode highlights the dangers of such a project.
Episode 8: Donna-Lyn Washington
In this episode I spoke with Donna-lyn Washington, who teaches English at Kingsborough Community College. She is the editor of John Jennings: Conversations from the University Press of Mississippi, and she is the senior editor and writer at ReviewFix. As well, she has done work on Frank Yerby, and her essay “Frank Yerby and His Readers” appears in Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays. We spoke about her teaching, comics, Frank Yerby, and Lillian Smith’s “Buying a New World With Confederate Bills” from the Winter 1942-43 issue of South Today.
Donna-Lyn’s observations and the ways she links together pieces, specifically Lillian Smith and comics, always inspires me. On Twitter, she will post about the ways that Smith relates to comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As we prepared for the first LES Reading Group, Donna-Lyn made these connections clear in a thread about the following quote from Smith’s “Addressed to Intelligent White Southerners: There are Things to Do”:
We need to open our eyes and look about us. We need to stare at the naked misery of our people, at the gullied land and gullied culture, until our imaginations begin to see what we have done to our people and ourselves by not acting. We need to assess the damage that we are responsible for, we need to tell that total deficit over and over to ourselves, rubbing it in like salt until it stings us into action.
Speaking about this quote in the podcast episode, Donna-Lyn echoes what Jaleesa and other guests have highlighted, that, as she says, “We have to continuously and perpetually do this. We cannot just sit on our laurels. We have to remain vigilant in this idea of continuing to end systemic racism. And that intelligent white southerns are capable of doing that, or at least willing to do that.”
Episode 9: Carlton Chamblin and Julie Adams
In this episode I spoke with Carlton Chamblin, owner of Farm 2 Cocktail, and Julie Adams, co-owner of Blue Ridge Roasters, about creating drinks commemorating the life and work of Lillian E. Smith. Carlton created the Lillian which uses his Peach Lavender shrub. Julie created the Laurel Leaf, a coffee roast named after the newsletter that Lillian sent to campers and parents at Laurel Falls Camp.
All of the podcast episodes I do are fun, but this one was especially fun because I spoke with Carlton and Julie about products inspired by Lillian Smith that they designed for their business. We talked about how they learned about Smith and what led them to make the cocktail and the coffee roast based on her. Carlton did not know about Smith before he moved to Northeast Georgia from Birmingham, Alabama. He spoke about being surrounded by Civil Rights history in Birmingham, and moving to Clayton hearing about Smith, a white, Southern, Georgian woman very much involved in that history. Julie, as well, talked about learning more Smith and how her story resonated with her, giving voice to those whose voices have been suppressed.
There are three more episodes in this season, so stay tuned soon for a wrap up about them. Until then, what are your thoughts? As usual, let me know in the comments below, and make sure to follow me on Twitter at @silaslapham.
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