Tag Archives: Richard Doster

Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster

Sports reporter Jack Hall didn’t see any problem with black athletes, especially if they were good, but he didn’t want his friends to think he was chummy with them or any Negro person. That would be crossing the line. His friends felt the same way. Playing baseball was fine. It’s not like those people were sitting in the same classroom or dancing with our children.

And Jack and Rose Marie Hall had a personal interest in avoiding desegregation issues. In the previous year, 1954, their home had been bombed by someone who didn’t like Jack’s public stand in favor of the Negro player on the local team. Now, the Halls have moved to Atlanta, and Jack’s new boss, Ralph McGill, wants to look into the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott inspired by Rosa Parks. Jack is the only reporter at a meeting of community leaders who choose then-unknown-preacher Martin L. King to lead the boycott. That frontline position gets King’s house bombed within a few months, and the Halls feel a new link to a family they would rather not befriend.

Crossing the Lines is loaded with historical detail, even some casual references from the characters which are not explained to the reader. It lead me to wonder if certain characters I took as wholly fictional creations were actually based on living people. Continue reading Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster

On the Best and Worst of Culture

Richard Doster has a novel coming this June, Crossing the Lines, about a sports writer who explores the reasons southern culture can produce beautiful artwork and entertainment while also rejecting the black people around them. Segregation and oppression appears to have inspired great music and literature.

I watched the Mississippi pass, wondering what would matter in a thousand years. And who, when my great grandchildren ran the business, would have had the more profound effect on the world: W. A. Gayle, the mayor of Montgomery, or Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records? Who, fifty years from now, would have had the greater impact: Marvin Griffin, the governor of Georgia—a man who had power, influence, and more friends than a movie star? Or Martin Luther King, a Negro pastor who couldn’t get a seat in most of Atlanta’s restaurants?

B.B. King once played on street corners to pay his power bill. Howling Wolf had played in overalls and cut up shoes. I’d listened to Willie Kizart make a miracle through a cracked amplifier he couldn’t afford to fix. And I wondered, there on the east bank of the Mississippi, who’d done more to make the world better: them, or the Arkansas state legislator Jim Johnson?