Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bernadene Villanueva of Soperton

Jean Dixon may have been the most psychic of the 1970s, but Benadene Villanueva was making a good living down in the Tampa area 35 years.  Chet Fuller of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated in a 1975 article that Villanueva was from Soperton. Clayton Stephens at the time said that although he had never heard of Bernadene, Treutlen County had plenty of psychics and they could be found sharing their knowledge on the streets of Soperton any Saturday afternoon. (Times have changed!)

Examine the clipping from the Soperton News.

Chet Fuller was an undercover  reporter for the AJC, posing as a day laborer, so he might have personally visited Soperton anonymously. His non-fiction book was reviewed by the New York Times:

I HEAR THEM CALLING MY NAME A Journey Through the New South. By Chet Fuller. 255 pp. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. $12.95. How many generations of reporters will have to go tramping through the ''New South'' before it is worn down into middle age? This account confirms that for the many blacks still working the white man's land for subsistence, or forced to hold two low-paying jobs to meet their bills, or without any job at all, the newness was never all that new. Chet Fuller, a young black reporter for The Atlanta Journal, traveled around four states in three months of 1978, posing as a job hunter. He is fair to the individual whites he encounters, such as the gas-station rednecks who help him out when his car breaks down, and he has a good ear for the street-corner jiving of the aimless young black men he meets wherever he goes. Now and then he hears about progress in race relations. ''You know,'' a hard-working Georgia man tells him, ''if you whup a cracker fair and square now, he just whupped. Used to be - and not long ago - white folks could do anything to you they want, and you couldn't fight 'em back. Now you can whup they head.'' But that is the exception. Mostly, he learns that power still resides with the white landowners, plant bosses and politicians. ''Gadsden is rotten,'' a black woman tells him in a town where white policemen have recently killed a black man. ''They sho' don't b'leeve in helping no black folks here. The way them polices shot Madden, it's a crime. The polices here treat black people like dogs. They can't ask you a simple question, and then when you go to answer it, they tell you to shut up. Just like you ain't grown yourself. That's the way they do.'' Mr. Fuller works hard at padding the book out with his own feelings as an educated comfortably situated black professional confronted by the misery of blacks who have not made it and have no hope of ever making it. But that sort of introspection takes a different talent than most journalists can claim. Still, nobody is likely to quarrel with his observation that ''Your color still matters in the South, in this country.'' He finds no black faces in the front offices where he goes to ask about jobs, and much white manipulation behind the scenes. In the records office of a North Carolina county, he digs into the story of an elderly woman who was induced to put up her interest in 87 acres of land as collateral on a loan of $615 for heating oil - and lost the land.
Used copies of the book can be found at Amazon as little as $3.95 including shipping.

A book recommended for students of black history. We hope that history has advanced in 35 years.

For your information, some newspapers have converted their microfilm images to digital images available free on internet. A great milestone. I hope that UGA libraries will one day do this for all their microfilmed newspapers. Check it out at the link below. After opening you may grab the page image and move it around to look at the whole page.

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