W. Ralph Eubanks

Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi's Dark Past

In June of 1957, Governor James Coleman stepped before the cameras on NBC's "Meet the Press" and was asked whether the public schools would ever be integrated. "Well, ever is a long time," he replied," [but] I would say that a baby born in Mississippi today will never live long enough to see an integrated school." In this extraordinary pilgrimage, W. Ralph Eubanks recaptures the feel of growing up during this tumultuous era, deep in rural Mississippi.

Inspired by the 1998 declassification of files kept by the State Sovereignty Commission--an agency specifically created to maintain white supremacy--Ralph Eubanks embarks on an extraordinary pilgrimage to recapture the feel of growing up deep in rural Mississippi. Eubanks vividly evokes a time and place where even small steps across the Jim Crow line became a matter of life and death, he offers eloquent testimony to a family's grace against all odds. The result is a journey of discovery that leads Eubanks not only to surprising conclusions about his own family, but also to harrowing encounters with those involved in some of the era's darkest activities.

Praise for Ever is a Long Time


"Ralph Eubanks's Mississippi detective story wrapped in a memoir is a remarkable journey back to the civil rights future. This wistful little book holds a significance as rich as Delta loam."
--David Levering Lewis, author of W.E.B. Du Bois: the Fight for Equality and the American Century


"What I found particularly beautiful about Ralph Eubanks' Mississippi memoir was its lack of bitterness. As an African-American of that time and place, he has every right to be bitter. There is an elegance here in the prose, a righteousness here in his investigations of how the Sovereignty Commission spied on his family. But somehow he manages a lack of bitterness, which makes his story that much more memorable and believable. In spite of everything, his deep love for his native state shines through."
--Paul Hendrickson, author of Sons of Mississippi


"A gift to everyone who reads it.... In all respects, an exemplary and admirable piece of work."
--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post


"A poignant look at a small southern town during a tumultuous period."
--Birmingham Post-Herald


"Ralph Eubanks gives us a rare insight."
--Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal


"Compelling...by turns a charming remembrance of a rural childhood and a chilling reminder of racism's legacy."
--BookPage


"Eubank's memoir is written in clear, accessible prose...his straightforward manner makes the emotional issues and difficult memories all the more poignant."
--The Sun Herald

Selected Works

Books
A look at race and identity through three generations of one American Family
A gripping memoir of coming of age in Mississippi in the Civil Rights era.
Articles
Eudora Welty's "Where is the Voice Coming From?" helps show a full picture of Mississippi in 1963.
Four U.S. Poets Laureate have taught at the University of Michigan. The author shares his memories of three of them.
A look back at the joys of summer reading on an old bookmobile
Now is the time to reconsider a policy that must eventually change. But simply replacing race with class isnít the solution.
A look at the changing mind of the South
A Look at the Meaning of Racial Labels
A look at the significance of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail
An analysis of the comments made by Trent Lott at Strom Thurmondís Birthday Party in 2002.
Essays
When a writer took a DNA ancestry test, his notions of ethnicity were turned upside down.
A Son Relishes Counsel That Comes in Dreams
Has Capitol Hill, barricaded and fenced off, lost its small-town appeal?
A summer trip to Mississippi provides the author and his children a look at Freedom Summer 1964
Fewer of us are reading, and our leaders may have scared even more people away from the pastime.
Reviews
A Review of Abraham Verghese's "Cutting for Stone"
A review of Scott Casper's "Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon"
A Review of Richard Wright's A Father's Law
A review of Nathan McCall's "Them: A Novel
A Review of Doug Marlette's Magic Time