Tag Archives: Race Relations

GodPretty in the Tobacco Fields

The loss of her parents was a tragedy for RubyLyn Bishop. Even worse in her mind, she was shuffled off to live with her Uncle Gunnar in the small rural town of Nameless, Kentucky. For RubyLyn life in Nameless brings changes and challenges from the people who watch and gossip about her.

She must work in the tobacco fields to help support the small farm on which she and her uncle live. Memories of the past and a small scrape of tobacco paper are all RubyLyn has left of happier times with her parents. When her spirits need a bit of a lift, she sometimes folds the scrap of paper into a fun way to tell her fortune, a practice that Uncle Gunnar doesn’t approve.

Surprisingly, RubyLyn finds growing tobacco is something that comes naturally to her. There’s a sense of peace, a solace in working the land and plants, especially when a close neighbor, Rainey Ford, takes an interest. He is easy to talk with and friendly. It isn’t long before she finds herself caring a good deal about him, but there is a problem, he is African-American and she is white. In the 1960’s South, close friendships like theirs were frowned upon and could cause serious problems for them.

Then there is Rose, an older woman and neighbor, who becomes someone that RubyLyn can depend on and talk with when she needs someone. Rose encourages RubyLyn to enter her tobacco plant in the State Fair competition. It may be just the push she needs to realize there is a larger world around her and that she can decide for herself where her future should lie.

Born and raised in central Kentucky, this book drew me in right away. In it, I found an opportunity to spend a short time in the Appalachian area. If you’ve ever wondered what small town life might be like, especially in our turbulent past, this is a book you should take time to sit with. In my opinion, Kim Michele Richardson takes the reader on a journey back in time, using her words to paint pictures of small town life with characters you will come to care about and for whom you can root. It is a realistic portrayal, where life doesn’t always end the way you want it to, where when one road ends another will begin.

Later this year, Ms. Richardson will release a new novel entitled The Sisters of Glass Ferry. For more information about this budding author check out her website.

 

 

Formats Available:  Regular Type, Book Kit

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy Tyson

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

On May 11, 1970 in the North Carolina town of Oxford, an African American man named Henry Dortress Marrow, Jr. was viciously beaten and murdered in public by three white men who would all three be acquitted by an all-white jury of this horrendous, cold-blooded crime. In response to this travesty of justice, there were demonstrations, riots, and a months-long boycott by African Americans in the community of white-owned businesses that eventually forced the leaders of Oxford to end segregation practices there. That’s right, end segregation practices in 1970, despite the passage by the Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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This is very difficult book to read, and I am not referring to the writing or narrative style. The violence and injustice that is recorded within its pages is repugnant and infuriating, but this is an important story to hear. I feel certain that there may be some who would say: Why write this book and drudge up hard feelings? Nothing good can come from it. To these people I would reply that in order for a country and its society to move forward as a unified people, it is essential to study the past, most especially those events that continue to divide, so that chasms may close and wounds healed.

Mr. Tyson, the son of a white Methodist minister who was a strong and public advocate for the Civil Rights Movement, was ten years old and living in Oxford at the time of Mr. Marrow’s murder, and it is this crime and its fallout that shaped the person that Mr. Tyson developed into as an adult. The reader joins Mr. Tyson in reflecting very deeply upon the Civil Rights Movement and the history of race relations in the United States, which leads to a litany of questions. How does one define freedom? How is change most effectively encouraged by a movement? What is the current state of race relations in America today?

It is absolutely vital that these and additional questions be examined by all, as the future of our country really does depend upon everyone facing our past in order to understand the present so that we may make progress together as a single people. And Blood Done Sign My Name serves as an emotional and powerful impetus for just such a purpose.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou
Conversations with Maya Angelou, 1989

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), Audiobook (CD), Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

New exhibit examines Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare in 1954 Louisville

 

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of a home purchase, bombing, and trial that shook Louisville and the nation. In 1954, the Wade family moved into a Shively home purchased by civil rights activists Anne and Carl Braden, becoming the first African American family on the block. After segregationists bombed the home, the Bradens were put on trial — accused of plotting a communist takeover of Kentucky. A new exhibit at the Louisville Free Public Library — Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville, 1954 — chronicles the 1954 bombing and ensuing sedition trial of Anne and Carl Braden.

Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville 1954 incorporates photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts from the Courier-Journal and University of Louisville Library and Archives, with contemporary historical and documentary text from Braden biographer Dr. Cate Fosl and the Braden Institute staff. The display examines racial equality and civil rights in 1954 Louisville, as well as its legacy today.

Black Freedom, White Allies, and Red Scare: Louisville, 1954 will be on display in the Main Library’s Bernheim Gallery from September 25, 2014 to November 9, 2014.

Be sure to check out the following related programs at the Library!

Opening Reception

October 1, 7:00 p.m. at the Main Library

It will feature an introduction to the exhibit by Dr. Cate Fosl, followed by a preview of the sedition trial reenactment directed by U of L theater professor Amy Steiger

Students from the university’s public history program also will be on hand that evening to record oral histories with visitors who want to share how they experienced 1954 and the related topics covered in the exhibit.  

The exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public.


The Social Construct of Race: Immigrants and the “Box” – Panel Discussion

October 7, 6:30 p.m. at the Iroquois Branch


Anne Braden: Southern Patriot – Film Viewing and Panel Discussion

October 21, 7:00 p.m. at the Main Library

 


The Wall Between by Anne Braden – Adult Book Discussion

October 22, 6:00 p.m. at the Crescent Hill Branch

 


Throughout the exhibit’s run, patrons will have the opportunity to share their six-word stories on race through The Race Card Project.

 Visit LFPL.org for more information and join the conversation on Twitter using #BradenWadeat60.