Calhoun professor to provide commentary on History Channel’s ‘You Don’t Know Dixie’
By Catherine Godbey
The Decatur Daily
An article written about George Washington Harris and YouTube videos landed Randy Cross his first nationally televised gig.
The History Channel’s “You Don’t Know Dixie” features interviews with Ty Pennington, Trace Adkins, James Carville, Jeff Foxworthy, Hershel Walker and the Calhoun Community College English professor. The two-hour special, described by producers as a “positive, celebratory and insightful program,” will debut tonight at 8 with a rebroadcast at midnight.
Producers interviewed Cross last month at the home of Glynn and Cathy Tubb. The all-day interview covered topics essential to the South and the region’s influence on the country.
“We talked about everything — Tabasco sauce, Bear Bryant, Alabama football, religion and inventions. I had no idea a Southerner invented refrigeration,” Cross said.
The special aims to answer questions such as “How did the South get its twang?” and “What exactly are grits?”
Country music legend Charlie Daniels will narrate the program, while Cross (who has not been privy to a sneak preview) will provide commentary between some of the segments.
The producers pursued Cross after reading an article he wrote about George Washington Harris. With a little Internet research, the History Channel discovered videos Cross’s wife posted on YouTube of him telling stories at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.
“They emailed me first about two or three months ago. I printed it off and took it home and asked my wife if she thought it was a hoax,” Cross said. “She told me not to send my bank card number to them.”
The English professor at Calhoun since 1982 and two-time Fulbright Scholar corresponded with the producers for three to four weeks prior to filming, which consisted of him sitting in a chair all day reading a script.
“One time I tried to get up and see what the shot looked like. But since I wasn’t sitting down, I could only see the chair. The chair looked good,” Cross said.
Cross plans to keep his debut performance low-key, watching the episode with his wife and son.
“It is easier when I get embarrassed to hide from my wife and son than from a whole roomful of people,” Cross said jokingly.
Along with teaching at Calhoun, Cross, a retired lieutenant colonel from the Tennessee Army National Guard, has published articles in American Literature, The South Atlantic Review and the Mark Twain Journal, and has delivered lectures on Southern literature.