Fleming, Karl 1927–
Fleming, Karl 1927–
PERSONAL: Born August 30, 1927, in Newport News, VA; married Anne Dixon Taylor (a writer).
CAREER: Daily Times, Wilson, NC, former police and court reporter; Morning Herald, Durham, NC; Citizen, Asheville, NC; Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA, former reporter; Newsweek, New York, NY, former civil rights correspondent and political reporter, beginning 1960, former Los Angeles bureau chief, beginning 1965; KNXT-TV, Los Angeles, CA, managing editor and on-air political editor, 1978–85; editor and publisher, California Business, 1985–87; Prime Time Communications (media consulting firm), president, 1988–. Producer of documentary Watts Revisited, CBS. Military service: U.S. Navy, c. mid-1940s.
(With wife, Anne Taylor Fleming) The First Time (memoir), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1975.
Son of the Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Karl Fleming tells both his own story and that of the civil rights movement, which he covered for Newsweek, in Son of the Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir. Fleming was born in coastal Virginia, but was raised in rural North Carolina. Growing up during the Great Depression of the 1930s, hard economic times devastated his family. When he was eight years old, his mother abandoned him at a Methodist church-run orphanage because she could no longer afford to care for him.
Fleming's career as a journalist was hardly more comfortable. Over the years he faced challenges and dangers ranging from gunfire and threats, and during the Watts riots of 1966 he was savagely beaten. The events that Fleming covered were often violent. One of these was a riot that broke out when the University of Mississippi was integrated in 1962. In 1964 Fleming was tailed, phone-tapped, and threatened as he reported on the investigation into the disappearances of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, who were later found murdered. Fleming "offers vibrant portraits" of these events in Son of the Rough South, noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. His reports feature "sharp observations of body language, vocal inflections, political maneuvering, [and] street theater." The result, Marc Peyser concluded in Newsweek, is "a tense, harrowing, utterly gripping journey." A Publishers Weekly contributor said that, although the history of the civil rights movement "may be familiar, Fleming provides a complex and fresh perspective."
Fleming told CA: "Reading books in the orphanage library first got me interested in writing. I am influenced by Mark Twain, George Orwell, Dickens, Stephen Crane, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and H.L. Mericken.
"I procrastinate until the last possible moment and then write rapidly and with increasing ease the more I write. I absolutely love writing a good, honest, clean sentence, and then another. I am very proud of my memoir, for it is the best book I could write. As I reread it, I would not change a sentence. It is the icing on the cake of my life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fleming, Anne Taylor, and Karl Fleming, The First Time, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1975.
Fleming, Karl, Son of the Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2005.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Son of the Rough South, p. 331.
Newsweek, May 30, 2005, Marc Peyser, review of Son of the Rough South, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2005, review of Son of the Rough South, p. 52.
AlabamaBooksmith.com, http://www.alabamabooksmith.com/ (August 10, 2005), "Karl Fleming Celebrates Birmingham Pledge Week!"
Reporting Civil Rights Web site, http://www.reportingcivilrights.org/ (August 10, 2005), "Karl Fleming."
Sun Valley Writer's Conference Web site, http://www.svwc.com/ (August 10, 2005), "Karl Fleming."