Miller Francis interview

miller1Miller Francis grew up in Anniston, Alabama in a working class family. He was in high school when a Freedom Rider bus was attacked and burned just outside of town.


Inspired by the example of Harper Lee and “To Kill A Mockingbird”, he studied fiction writing at the University of Alabama. There he watched as then-Governor George Wallace took his stand for racial segregation in the schoolhouse door, and met Vivian Malone and James Hood after they were admitted as students.
He joined thousands at a rally in the former capitol of the Confederacy to welcome those who had marched for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery. In 1967 he refused induction into the Army in protest against the Vietnam War. He married Kathy McLaughlin, once in the Catholic student center with family members, and second in a large, public Wed-In on the campus quadrangle on the day “Sgt Pepper” was first released. They moved to Atlanta, where he was later arrested and where the ACLU took his legal case. (The Army ordered a second physical exam in which it discovered a pre-diabetic condition; charges were dropped only two weeks before trial was to begin.) For several years, Miller did legal secretarial work for Attorney Charles Morgan at the Southern Regional Office of the ACLU, and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, as well as free lance work for Angela Davis’ attorney, Howard Moore.

Best Miller Francis Articles from The Great Speckled Bird

Miller Francis

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Alabama when the Freedom Riders came through

Miller Francis
Miller Francis

As forces for radical change gained momentum in the Sixties, Miller was drawn from fiction writing to another road. He became more active politically, writing only non-fiction, while continuing to demonstrate for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. At the height of the social upsurge, he lived for a time in an Atlanta commune called The Heathen Rage, and wrote music and film reviews for “The Great Speckled Bird”, a weekly underground newspaper. Some of his articles were reprinted by other underground newspapers, and he also contributed briefly to Rolling Stone and Cream (including a review of Music To Eat by The Hampton Grease Band). He covered national events such as the Woodstock Music Festival, the Memphis Blues Festival and the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. His enthusiastic “discovery” article about The Allman Brothers Band’s first performance in Piedmont Park is still being quoted (Scott Freeman, “Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band”). As early as 1969, Rolling Stone Magazine called Miller “one of the best rock and roll writers the underground has produced. . .unique in his ability to place rock in the perspective of the revolution”. In his book “The Paper Revolutionaries”, Laurence Leamer called Miller “the most articulate of the cultural radicals. [He] maneuvers the symbols of cultural radicalism with the subtlety and sureness of Marx working with the tools of economic determinism.” As different social movements began to develop, Miller also wrote articles dealing with the oppression of women and homosexuals.

Changes come to The South

Atlanta calls!

Miller awaits the GBI with “Boy”, Tracy Shepard, at Heathen Rage on 14th Street

1967 caught in the draft









Miller and his first wife









Miller Meets The Bird









Movie freak starts writing movie reviews


Tracy Shephard, Lenden Sandler, Miller Francis, Dee McCargo on at Heathen Rage 14th

Draft resistors

Gay Declaration

About these photos

Heathen Rage – At the height of the social upsurge, Miller lived for a time in an Atlanta commune called The Heathen Rage, and wrote music and film reviews for “The Great Speckled Bird”, a weekly underground newspaper.

Heathen Rage at Piedmont Park concert
Heathen Rage at Piedmont Park concert

Awaiting arrest by the GBI

Piedmont Park and the Allman Brothers

Allman Brothers story

And all the other Freaks will share my cares…

writing for The Bird

Miller’s Woodstock experience

Miller Googles himself

Living on 14th Street

Liberation for all!

You may say I’m a dreamer …



3 thoughts on “Miller Francis interview

  1. This is beyond fascinating, it is kind of blowing my mind. I was wondering if Miller Francis was saying that he is gay now. And I thought it was interesting that, in the sections I listened to, there was no discussion of Maoism or the lines on the gay question that were part of the Maoist movement.

    I think it would be great if Miller wrote not only a novel (I saw a mention on the CNN page that he is doing that), but also a memoir.

    My warm regards to Miller, and I would be interested in hearing from him if that is at all possible, you are welcome to give my email address to him.

    Bill Martin

  2. Today, 7.23.2015, is my first encounter with this interesting series of reviews.. As I assume many of us are reflecting back on our 50 years ago period, this key, important writer for THE GREAT SPECKLED BIRD, is quite valuable and the presentation is excellent. Good work, and I look forward to listening to all parts. Interesting to learn more already about Miller’s time in Alabama, before he moved to Atlanta, and before I met him on 14th Street, living next door to the Bird office on 14th. Howard Romaine

  3. After high school in Jacksonville FL, I hitched to Atlanta and crashed on Steve Wise’s floor for a bit. Solds Birds at Buckhead and Underground. Lived at the Heathen Rage for a while and then went to Buzzards Neck. Moe, Greg, Blue, Terry Wehunt, John from Detroit (where I ended up). Watched the Jesus freak vs Hare Krishna turf fight at 1oth and Peachtree. 12th Gate, Piedmont, Hampton.

    The audio is great. Too much. Now I’m making art in Detroit.

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