12. Sweet Potato Pie – Eugenia Collier (Part 2)

Everything That Rises is a weekly passion project podcast series dedicated to the short stories of the one and only Flannery O’Connor. Each week join English teacher, author and speaker John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) and a well-read friend to help co-host as we explore the stories, symbols, and rich cultural legacy of this iconic 20th Century author of the American South. Blending Catholic theology with literary analysis for a sort of 21st century book club (complete with the usual parade of good-natured tall tales and Southern “stretchers”), it’s a fun and fascinating journey through one of the most brilliant and influential writers in all of contemporary American literature. New stories twice a month! And new episodes every week, with about 45(ish) minutes devoted to the first half of each story, and another 45 minutes (or so) the following week dedicated to all the unexpected twists and turns that lie in store in the back half of each narrative.

This week: in light of the worldwide protests on the heels of the murder of George Floyd, the conversation surrounding race, racism, and systemic oppression of persons of color is simply too big and too important to ignore. Flannery O’Connor herself wrote extensively about many of these matters throughout her fiction in stories we’ve explored in the past and others that we will revisit in closer detail in the weeks and months ahead. But for this week’s episode, we’re returning for the second half of an exclusive detour into a powerful short story by Eugenia Collier, a person of color and a noted author in her own right, called “Sweet Potato Pie.” By using this paired texts approach, we’ll better be able to see what the world of O’Connor’s day was like, and develop a closer contextual understanding of the everyday reality of #OwnVoices authors who — like O’Connor — wrote during the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century. Our guest this week is South Carolina-based educator, administrator and podcaster Sloan Joseph (@psloanjoseph) — host of the “Greater Is In Me” podcast and champion of the #InformInspireInfluence hashtag. You can find a copy of Collier’s short story online by visiting: https://www.bpi.edu/ourpages/auto/2017/10/14/55813476/Sweet%20Potato%20Pie-Collier.pdf.

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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