Glenn T. Eskew has an abiding interest in southern history having taught the subject at Georgia State University since 1993. Currently he heads the university's World Heritage Initiative, an effort to develop a serial nomination of U. S. civil rights sites for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. His But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (1997) received the Francis Butler Simkins Award from Southern Historical Association and Longwood College for the best book in southern history by a new author. His biography, Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World (2013), received the Bell Award from the Georgia Historical Society and was selected as a Choice outstanding academic title. Currently he is writing a history of civil rights monuments, museums, and institutions in the Deep South. Eskew serves on a number of national, regional, state, and local boards, and promotes historic preservation and public history.
The jazz infused music Savannah native Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) produced as the writer of nearly 1,500 songs, as president of Capitol Records which he cofounded in 1942, and as one of the country’s foremost midcentury performers, helped transform popular song at home and abroad, as he joined other southern diaspora entertainers with whom he worked such as Billie Holiday, Dinah Shore, Nat “King” Cole, and Harry James, in creating the global soundtrack of the American Consensus. Written for Hollywood musicals, Broadway shows, and radio, such Mercer standards as “Skylark,” “Laura,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Black Magic,” “Moon River,” continually regenerate as each generation discovers anew these immortal contributions to the Great American Songbook.