Hot Best Seller

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

Availability: Ready to download

“Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger.” Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by a playmate, heralded a ?restorm that would forever transform the tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina. On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and t “Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger.” Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by a playmate, heralded a ?restorm that would forever transform the tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina. On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life. Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Klan raged in the shadows and black Vietnam veterans torched the town’s tobacco warehouses. Tyson’s father, the pastor of Oxford’s all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away. Tim Tyson’s riveting narrative of that fiery summer brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to a shocking episode of our history. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Blood Done Sign My Name is a classic portrait of an unforgettable time and place.


Compare

“Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger.” Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by a playmate, heralded a ?restorm that would forever transform the tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina. On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and t “Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger.” Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by a playmate, heralded a ?restorm that would forever transform the tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina. On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life. Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Klan raged in the shadows and black Vietnam veterans torched the town’s tobacco warehouses. Tyson’s father, the pastor of Oxford’s all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away. Tim Tyson’s riveting narrative of that fiery summer brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to a shocking episode of our history. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Blood Done Sign My Name is a classic portrait of an unforgettable time and place.

30 review for Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anya Weber

    This is the best nonfiction book about civil rights I have ever read. I'm astounded that it isn't required reading in high schools and colleges across America. It's the story of a murder in North Carolina in 1970; it's also the story of author Tim Tyson's family, and of the history of race in the American South. I thought I knew all this stuff. The Civil Rights Movement gets pounded into most American kids' heads around junior high, depicted as a thrilling time when the country came t This is the best nonfiction book about civil rights I have ever read. I'm astounded that it isn't required reading in high schools and colleges across America. It's the story of a murder in North Carolina in 1970; it's also the story of author Tim Tyson's family, and of the history of race in the American South. I thought I knew all this stuff. The Civil Rights Movement gets pounded into most American kids' heads around junior high, depicted as a thrilling time when the country came together in the name of justice. This book makes it clear that this is far from being the whole story. Tyson talks about how his small town's officials responded to the federal mandate to integrate public parks by shutting down all the parks in town. He tells about how black men _had_ the vote in North Carolina after the Civil War, and about how black and white share-croppers (among others) created a Fusion branch of the Populist party, leading to blacks being elected to many positions of power in the NC state and local governments. And about how the backlash from white conservatives led to black men getting their right to vote revoked: not through voter lists or "hanging chads," but through Klansmen telling fellow white Carolinians that allowing a black man to vote was tantamount to inviting him to rape your wife. Here's Tyson on Martin Luther King, Jr: "In the years since his murder, we have transformed King into a kind of innocuous black Santa Claus, genial and vacant, a benign vessel that can be filled with whatever generic good wishes the occasion dictates...The radicalism of Dr. King's thought, the militancy of his methods, and the rebuke that he offered to American capitalism have given way to depictions of a man who never existed, caricatures invented after his death." Wow. In addition to extensive and mid-blowing research, Tyson deploys a charming narrative voice, both playful and intense. He's just a great storyteller--his legacy from his preacher father, perhaps. He speaks from a position of great emotional involvement, and also impeccable scholarship. I took this out of the library, but I also want to own it and to give it to all the thinking people I know.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tobey

    I apologize in advance if this becomes something other than a book review. I live about two hours away from Oxford, North Carolina where fourty years ago Henry Marrow was beaten and murdered in the street for no reason other than the fact that he was black man who talked to a white woman. So it is a bit of an understatement to say that this book hit close to home. Tim Tyson and I grew up in small southern tobacco towns, where friendly folk sitting on their front porches wou I apologize in advance if this becomes something other than a book review. I live about two hours away from Oxford, North Carolina where fourty years ago Henry Marrow was beaten and murdered in the street for no reason other than the fact that he was black man who talked to a white woman. So it is a bit of an understatement to say that this book hit close to home. Tim Tyson and I grew up in small southern tobacco towns, where friendly folk sitting on their front porches would welcome you with a tall glass of iced tea, sit you down, and tell you with a smile that, well, Segregation never really got a fair shake. I have never seen a burning cross, but I have seen them charred and smoking in fields, the morning after a rally. The town in which I live was featured in a History Channel documentary about the Klan. Footage is shown of Klan members in their robes on the steps of our court house, which was just a block away from my church and the house where I grew up. Kids I ended up going to high school with were shown on national television holding ropes that were tied like nooses around the necks of black baby dolls. They shook them around like they were yo-yos or deflated balloons. There is a well-known restaurant nearby that people come from miles away to eat at that does not serve anyone who isn't white. A Jordanian acquaintance was turned away because of "inappropriate attire" although the establishment has no dress code. A Mexican friend worked there as a dish washer. When I asked him how the job was he said, "Its fine, as long as I don't try to walk in through the front door." This is still going on in 2010, and I've been around it all my life, and now I teach students who say these gut-churningly awful things about race and I work to repair something that gets broken again as soon as they go home to their families that are fueling these prejudices. I didn't really want to read this book. My father was crazy about it and basically told me I had to read it or he would disown me. I'm glad I caved, because Blood Done Sign My Name is amazing. It is both historically informative and a brutally open way for Tyson to work through issues that have defined his life. Though he recounts torturous circumstances, Tyson writes like a southern-fried Garrison Keillor. His charming tone allows him to cut deep, and while he examines himself the reader can't help but put their own thoughts under the microscope. If you haven't yet, you should read this book and then give it to other people to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This was nonfiction and I enjoyed this book. It is an in depth look at segregation, integration and the fight for civil rights. Timothy Tyson did a fantastic job with his research, assembling the info, and also I enjoyed his own personal experiences as well those of this family. I actually liked that part the most because it felt more personal and gave this book that overall feel. So 4 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim P

    Tyson's opus is intelligently written and meticulously researched and looks at all characters in a sympathetic light, no matter how evil they appear to be on the surface. Tyson's biggest weakness in his book is his ambivalence of his own identity. He begins the book as an individual proud of his strong father and southern roots as they appear to be a dominant force in who he is today...however he oscillates between pat-on-the-back good-ole southern boy and self loathing southerner, wishing to en Tyson's opus is intelligently written and meticulously researched and looks at all characters in a sympathetic light, no matter how evil they appear to be on the surface. Tyson's biggest weakness in his book is his ambivalence of his own identity. He begins the book as an individual proud of his strong father and southern roots as they appear to be a dominant force in who he is today...however he oscillates between pat-on-the-back good-ole southern boy and self loathing southerner, wishing to enlighten these backwards and ignorant people (I'm from Kentucky, tongue was in cheek on that one). While I found this book to be heartwrenching and well-written, his refusal to take a stand on who he is really, really annoyed me. Favorite quotes: " 'I really dig sharks,' the poet once said, 'because when they bite your goddamn head off, they never say it was for a good cause' " "Though people tend to think of poor, rural white Southerners as the worst racists in the country, these were not the people who redlined black folks out of their neighborhoods, the way northern bankers and real estate agents did. They were hardly in a position to keep blacks out of America's most elite schools, the way northeastern academics did. And white country people in the South often lived right alongside blacks, in similar material conditions, which both softened and sharpened racial clashes."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I was pretty surprised how disappointed I was with this book. It came to me very highly recommended, and it contains all of the tropes I typically fall (hard) for, in setting, style and substance. But as I slogged through it--and it was a slog--I was continually frustrated by how much the author was trying to do. He was taking one compelling, horrific incident and using it as a framework for telling the entire racial history of the South from 1865 to the present. An admirable goal, but I kept th I was pretty surprised how disappointed I was with this book. It came to me very highly recommended, and it contains all of the tropes I typically fall (hard) for, in setting, style and substance. But as I slogged through it--and it was a slog--I was continually frustrated by how much the author was trying to do. He was taking one compelling, horrific incident and using it as a framework for telling the entire racial history of the South from 1865 to the present. An admirable goal, but I kept thinking he failed. The narrative is completely disjointed, as his story leaps by decades in a single page, making it ultimately impossible to follow the storyline or tell a comprehensive tale of the South's ugly history. He needed a better editor to remove those characters who, while they may have been important in the overall racial struggle of the South, weren't important to this story. If this had been a 120-page telling of the story of Henry Marrow's murder (and how Tyson got that story), I think it would have been much more successful. He tried to do too much, and ended up telling an inch-deep story as wide as the Mason-Dixon Line.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bmeyer

    If there were ten stars, I'd give them...one of the best books I have read about anything, pretty much. Beautifully written and will rewire your understanding of race in the American South and adds needed perspective (especially for white people) about the modern Civil Rights movement. You won't want to put it down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    I really don't know a lot about the civil rights movement. All I know is that some nonviolent black guy named Martin Luther King, Jr. marched around and got attacked by cops. And black people wanted to stop discrimination (i.e. the inability to drink out of whichever water fountain you want), which somehow, someday, just stopped. POOF! Looking back at my description, though, I can see all the holes in my knowledge. I know that just one guy couldn't have changed the country so drastica I really don't know a lot about the civil rights movement. All I know is that some nonviolent black guy named Martin Luther King, Jr. marched around and got attacked by cops. And black people wanted to stop discrimination (i.e. the inability to drink out of whichever water fountain you want), which somehow, someday, just stopped. POOF! Looking back at my description, though, I can see all the holes in my knowledge. I know that just one guy couldn't have changed the country so drastically. I know that discrimination has to be more than just dividing water fountains, buses, and schools by color or it wouldn't have been such a big problem. I know that we didn't all just decide to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" one afternoon, and suddenly discrimination disappeared. I have heard obscure names like Malcolm X and the Black Panthers tossed around a few times, but I have no idea what they mean. All I've learned about the civil rights movement is the child's sanitized version of history, just the information that you find in a children's book about MLK and no more. And chances are, if you're young, like me, and white, like me, that's all you've ever learned, too. That's where this book comes in. Set in Oxford, North Carolina during an especially turbulent period of the civil rights movement, Blood Done Sign My Name recounts the story of a white family killing a black man, and the racial tension that resulted. I never knew that there was rioting and firebombing all over that small country town, or even anywhere in the country, and especially that it was done by the black community. I never really knew what the Black Panthers stood for, or why people were so upset when those two black Olympic medalists gave the "black power" salute during the national anthem. I still don't know what Malcolm X stood for, but now I have to know. This book has opened my eyes on the civil rights issue so much, and I can't hardly believe that our country was once like that. This makes Occupy Wall Street and all the backlash there seem like kindergarten, and Middle Eastern terrorists seem like background noise. What has our country been hiding from us? Obviously, more than I thought. I knew history textbooks couldn't be entirely trusted, but I didn't know to what extent. Now I feel I have to go researching everything supposedly important in history that I don't know hardly anything about--Vietnam, Nixon, the Persian Gulf, Cuba--and see what exactly was going on, and what we're too ashamed to teach our children. As Tyson explains in the book, we can't move forward until we acknowledge where we've been. And from what I see, we're just trying to hide that information.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Wow. Simultaneously personal (because it's a memoir of a horrible event in Oxford, North Carolina, in 1970) and universal (because it's about prejudice and fear and ignorance and hope). Also, I laughed aloud several times. I read this book on various planes and buses and in various terminals and lounges last month, most of the time with tears running down my face. Which was embarrassing but maybe was good advertising for this author. Not only is this a memoir and a history, it is also Wow. Simultaneously personal (because it's a memoir of a horrible event in Oxford, North Carolina, in 1970) and universal (because it's about prejudice and fear and ignorance and hope). Also, I laughed aloud several times. I read this book on various planes and buses and in various terminals and lounges last month, most of the time with tears running down my face. Which was embarrassing but maybe was good advertising for this author. Not only is this a memoir and a history, it is also a persuasive argument that the events in the struggle for civil rights have been recast and prettified and sugar-coated beyond all recognition. Some of my favorite passages: "Smoking cigarettes, much like the racial slavery that had originally made tobacco profitable, was regarded as sinful by a substantial minority of folks, even though the economy rested on it. Sin or no sin, anybody tall enough to see over the counter at Monk's Grocery could buy a pack for thirty-five cents. Me and my brother, Vern, bought them regularly, though we lived in terror of getting caught. 'I need a pack of Tareyton's for my mama,' I would say to the man at the register, as if my mother would be caught dead sending a child out for cigarettes. The lie was superfluous. Monk probably would have sold me the smokes if I had said they were for the little baby Jesus." "Then, thrusting the bootlegger away from him, the major exploded: 'But more to the point, what I call Mrs. Shaw is none of your goddamned business, you low-life taxidermist, you two-for-a-nickel jackal, you knee-crawling son of a bitch, net.' Those were the days when people really knew how to cuss." "'I was doing that stuff back then, sit-ins and marches and all the rest and nowadays nobody even knows what it was like. People right now think that the white man opened up his drugstore and said, Y'all come in now, integration done come. But every time a door opened, somebody was kicked in the butt; somebody was knocked down and refused and spit on before you went in them places. It wasn't no nonviolence in Oxford. Somebody was bruised and kicked and knocked around--you better believe it. You didn't get it for free.'" "'We knew if we cost 'em enough goddamn money they was gon' start doing something.'" "'They had to give us some respect. . . . They might not like it but they damn sure had to do that. We was getting ready to tear this motherfucker all to hell, and all of a sudden [white people:] decided to listen.'" "'When it was quiet, we all heard a baby crying outside the courtroom. The window was open, and you could hear it all through the room. . . . And I just started crying. . . . I was thinking about the little baby, the one whose father had been killed, and the little baby that had just been born in the Teel family, Roger's little girl. And how none of this was their fault, none of it. All of this was our fault, not theirs.'" About economic boycotts: "This may seem appalling to those who grew up with the story of Rosa Parks and her tired feet, but the same story could be told from Montgomery to Memphis, from the earliest years of the movement; there were always black people too fearful, too attached to 'their' white folks, too pessimistic or too beaten down by white supremacy to stand up for themselves. And black activists dealt with their dissenters emphatically, because freedom was on the line. 'We'd bust a bag of sugar, break a couple of jars of jelly,' [Eddie:] McCoy recounted. 'Didn't nobody try to hurt nobody. They just needed to know we weren't playing that shit. Black people had to work together.'" "In fact, though none of the white people in the room knew what had happened along the banks of the Cape Fear in 1898, the Wilmington Race Riot was probably the most important political event in the history of the state. Its omission from North Carolina history may have been the biggest of the lies that marked my boyhood." "'If, in moving through your life, you find yourself lost,' said Bernice Johnson Reagon, the guiding spirit of the SNCC Freedom Singers and now Sweet Honey in the Rock, 'go back to the last place where you knew who you were, and what you were doing, and start from there.' Soon after I took her advice, I found myself with a straight razor at my neck. . . ." "'For we acknowledge and confess to you that we, too, like the men who once owned Destrehan Plantation, have been tempted to love things and use people, when you have called us to love people and use things.'" "Someone in Oxford went to the library and tore out the pages where I narrate the killing of Henry Marrow, presumably to prevent other people from reading them. I could have replaced them, of course, but I have chosen not to do so. Those missing pages make my central point more clearly, in some respects, than their contents ever could have. Our hidden history of race has yet to be fully told, and we persist in hiding from much of what we know."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Blood Done Sign My Name is a superb story by a superb author. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone seeking to further their knowledge of civil rights history; sadly (and as the author points out) just because back in the 50s & 60s Congress passed civil rights bills doesn't mean that these were ever fully implemented or accepted. In Tyson's book, he tells of an incident that took place in North Carolina as late as 1992, and I'm sure that the long-standing prejudices continue to fost Blood Done Sign My Name is a superb story by a superb author. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone seeking to further their knowledge of civil rights history; sadly (and as the author points out) just because back in the 50s & 60s Congress passed civil rights bills doesn't mean that these were ever fully implemented or accepted. In Tyson's book, he tells of an incident that took place in North Carolina as late as 1992, and I'm sure that the long-standing prejudices continue to foster ugly incidents into the present. So if you are interested in this topic, pick up this book. brief synopsis; my impressions "Blood Done Sign My Name," as the author notes on page 319 of this book, "started out as a slave spiritual. After the fall of the Confederacy it emerged as a paradoxical blues lament..." then "evolved into a gospel song," then in the 1940s sung by a group called The Radio Four, "elevates the transcendent spirit of gospel, but," notes the author, "listen closely and you can hear Chuck Berry down the line." Like the evolution of that song, the author's "hopes for this country have taken a similar trajectory," and his "ascendant spirits, like the future of our country, depend upon an honest confrontation with our own history." (319) This book is not just another retelling of the stories of the civil rights movement ... it starts in 1970, actually, when two boys (one of them the author) are playing basketball and the other boy says to the author "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot a nigger." (1) Both boys were ten, living in Oxford NC; it was this incident which was the spark that set off the fire of unrest & violence in this small town; the book describes how the acts from both sides of the color line affected him, his family and the other members of this small town. While he keeps this story as the focal point of the book, he goes on to tell of his own roots, and his personal experiences during the volatile 70s -- during the time of Watergate, the Vietnam War -- up through the present when he took a group of students on a tour of the South. His story is fascinating & compelling; I couldn't put it down. To be truthful, at first I wondered where all of this story about his family was going & why put it alongside a story about a terrible injustice. But eventually, it all ties together; the story could not have been done as well as it was without it. I totally enjoyed the book and I'm going to get the author's other book now. Please do yourself a favor & read this book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jay Henry

    I read this wonderful book my first year at Sarah Lawrence in my "Introduction to African American History" seminar. This book is an intricate mix of memoir and historical non-fiction. Tim Tyson tells the story of the events surrounding the murder of a young black man in his hometown in Oxford, NC. What makes this book special from civil rights narratives is that it powerfully, yet humbly, attempts to explain the local politics of the Civil Rights Movement. Too often, we think of the movement in I read this wonderful book my first year at Sarah Lawrence in my "Introduction to African American History" seminar. This book is an intricate mix of memoir and historical non-fiction. Tim Tyson tells the story of the events surrounding the murder of a young black man in his hometown in Oxford, NC. What makes this book special from civil rights narratives is that it powerfully, yet humbly, attempts to explain the local politics of the Civil Rights Movement. Too often, we think of the movement in national terms yet we don't consider how political decisions affected families and individuals at a local level. This book is also spectacular in that you will get a new narrative of the movement. Our national narrative has long been: "black people were slaves, then Honest Abe freed them, then they couldn't vote, then MLK Jr. came, gave a speech and now they're free." Blood Done Sign my Name paints a new portrait on civil rights politics. It explains the delicate interaction between Christianity, politics, race, gender, class and history. It is a must read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Censorship by Goodreads?: I joined Goodreads over two years ago with the purpose of committing to “the cloud” a paper list (along with supplementary Post-It Notes and cocktail napkins) of books, including this one, that I intended to read someday. After doing so, the first comment that I ever received on Goodreads directed me to a web site that denounced this book. The web site is the laughably ineffective work of an angry semi-literate: difficult to navigate, ill-punctuated, logically inconsistent. If you Censorship by Goodreads?: I joined Goodreads over two years ago with the purpose of committing to “the cloud” a paper list (along with supplementary Post-It Notes and cocktail napkins) of books, including this one, that I intended to read someday. After doing so, the first comment that I ever received on Goodreads directed me to a web site that denounced this book. The web site is the laughably ineffective work of an angry semi-literate: difficult to navigate, ill-punctuated, logically inconsistent. If you doubted that the race-related unpleasantness related in this book is still alive and kicking today, Tyson's detractors should convince you otherwise. I saw at the time that all who had listed the book as “to-read” had received the same comment. Later, the comment disappeared from my review. The same seemed to happen to comments by the same poster on other people's reviews. What happened? Assuming that the original poster did not voluntarily withdraw the posting, it seems like censorship. Was it? Opinion about book: I enjoyed this book and recommend it, but my comment here will not be completely complimentary. It seems like the author wants to have it both ways about the role of story-telling in history. I mean to say: he wants to tell a story of a single incident here and have us believe that it stands, at least in part, for a larger struggle and a larger problem. He makes his case convincingly. Why does he need to do this? Because history, in the raw, is a confusing, often contradictory, series of events, with seeming dead ends, inexplicable mysteries, misleading contemporary accounts, and inconclusive data. Historians and fiction writers often arrive on the scene afterward and shape a narrative that they hope will be clear, accurate, and useful for the rest of us. When done well, it helps us to remember things we might otherwise wish to forget, like lynchings, and motivate us to be better than we might be otherwise. So, while telling his own story, Tyson objects to what he sees as the “Disneyfied” story of the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, and, by extension, the entire African-American experience. There can be no arguing with the fact that King is now viewed differently in popular culture. Further evidence of this was provided by the recent release of decades-old interviews with the recently-widowed Jacqueline Kennedy denouncing Dr. King, which hit the mainstream press like the voice of a ghost from the past, reminding us of how Dr. King appeared to many contemporaries. As Tyson accurately summarizes it, the current popular myth is that King came along with a philosophy of non-violence, and, as an almost immediate result, opposition to racism in the U.S. suddenly melted away, except for a few cardboard villains. While this is clearly not true, I'd like to take the morally wicked position that such lies should at least be tolerated, if not encouraged. Where I live now (Bulgaria), the popular narrative (or “myth”, if you wish to be uncharitable) is that this country is a tolerant one. As evidence, Bulgarians can point out that the country managed to save most of its indigenous Jews from extinction during WWII without any apparently self-interested motive. Of course, there are other moments in local history when toleration was not in evidence, but the popular narrative remains a useful one. In this case, there were recently anti-Roma (a.k.a. Gypsy) violence sparked by the killing of an ethnic Bulgarian by an ethnic Roma crime lord. Leading political figures from both the left and the right appeared together in public and declared that toleration was a national characteristic and to be intolerant was to be unpatriotic. Since a sense of patriotism is often a more effective motivator than a sense of righting a past wrong, this was a wise rhetorical move and helped to partially dampen inflamed spirits, probably saving property and lives. Similarly, in the U.S.A., thanks to the posthumous conversion of Dr. King from dangerous radical to great American, it is possible to publicly invoke him when wishing to maintain that toleration and non-violence are the traditional qualities of patriotic citizens. While it is reasonable to question whether such a tradition exists, it seems inarguable that things would be better if such a tradition existed. Its widespread acceptance in the national mythology makes it more difficult to claim that the inherent superiority of one group is actually what the country is all about. Certain lies, like certain idiots, can be useful. This contention rests on the unprovable assertion that, while most people will not respond to a call to remedy wrongs they perceive as done long ago by strangers long dead, many will respond to a call to behave in the perceived great traditions of their nation, wherever the nation is. People who are ready for the more complicated truth can go to writers like Tyson. In this case, they will discover a truth that is deeper, sadder, more enraging, more complex, usually more tragic, occasionally more heroic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelly ...

    I haven't read a lot about the fight for civil rights, partly because I don't read a lot of nonfiction and partly because I haven't heard about the books that are available on the subject. This one was really good. Mr Tyson discussed the issues with personal insights and good research. He showed respect and heart in his writing. I found the book to be smart, complex and relatable. I found it to be emotionally challenging. I am a white American who has lived most of my life in Colorado, and I hav I haven't read a lot about the fight for civil rights, partly because I don't read a lot of nonfiction and partly because I haven't heard about the books that are available on the subject. This one was really good. Mr Tyson discussed the issues with personal insights and good research. He showed respect and heart in his writing. I found the book to be smart, complex and relatable. I found it to be emotionally challenging. I am a white American who has lived most of my life in Colorado, and I have never been the subject of racial prejudice. I am lucky. This book gave me a glimpse into those struggles. I wish more people would read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Vaterlaus

    In the epilogue Tyson quotes Faulkner, "The past is not dead. It's not even past." The quote sums up the importance of reading this book for me. It was devastating to read about the unjust and horrific treatment of human beings in our country, but as the author points out--we have to face our past if we want to move forward. In this historical account there were people who stood up for the rights of others. In this there is hope.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was absolutely engrossing, and a fantastically detailed, intimate look at civil rights in this country. I can't recommend this one highly enough. I hung on his every word. The audiobook is superb, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Munoz

    This powerful insight to the civil rights movement. It made me realize even more about the ugliness of discrimination.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peter William Warn

    Summary: Timothy B. Tyson's consideration of how a racial murder in 1970 affected his North Carolina hometown, his family and himself is masterful. Its title comes from a spiritual. _____ Nogger. That I can write, but I don't think anyone should use the most racial epithet in the United States that comes of changing just one lettter. And yet, not using the word hampers efforts to discuss Timothy B. Tyson's riveting Blood Done Sign My Name. The word is an unavoidable element of the Summary: Timothy B. Tyson's consideration of how a racial murder in 1970 affected his North Carolina hometown, his family and himself is masterful. Its title comes from a spiritual. _____ Nogger. That I can write, but I don't think anyone should use the most racial epithet in the United States that comes of changing just one lettter. And yet, not using the word hampers efforts to discuss Timothy B. Tyson's riveting Blood Done Sign My Name. The word is an unavoidable element of the powerful work of history and autobiography. It is in the first sentence. It casts its shadow over every one of the other words Tyson uses gracefully in his 322 pages. As boys, Tyson and Gerald Teel played together in Oxford, North Carolina but they grew up in different worlds. Their use, as 10-year-old white boys, of what we euphemistically call the n-word reflects this. Tyson knew from his parents, his Methodist preacher father and school teacher mother, not to use the word that Teel's KKK-connected family used casually. "It was evil," Tyson writes, "like taking the Lord's name in vain, maybe even worse." On May 12, 1970, Teel told his friend Tyson that "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger." It was the most direct thing anyone at the time told Tyson, who grew up to be a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He had to piece together years later through interviews and research everything else about the racially motivated murder of Henry Marrow, a 23-year-old Vietnam veteran. Tyson tried to make sense of the event in a college research project and then in his master's thesis and finally in this book. Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name is a penetrating, engrossing account of what the historian learned about Marrow's murder and what it reveals about the knotty racial histories of the United States, at least one of its small town and some of the people who were raised there. Among those people are Robert Teel, a murderous racist, and Ben Chavis, a president of the NAACP. Tyson weaves together memoir with a larger history and bits of a detective story in a compelling attempt to bring some important truth into our understanding of a vital topic: The sacrifice has already been made, in the bottoms of slave ships, in the portals of Ellis Island, in the tobacco fields of North Carolina and the sweatshops of New York City. The question remains whether or not we can transfigure our broken pasts into a future filled with common possibility. The murder of Marrow echoed an earlier racial crime. When 14-year-old Emmitt Till was beaten savagely for daring to whistle at a white woman in Money, Mississippi in 1955, his murder shocked much of the country. It helped to energize the movement that led in 1965 to what was intended to be the final dismantling of segregation. Five years after that landmark, Robert Teel and some of his sons still felt the color of their skin entitled them to kill to preserve their racial privileges. Many white people in Oxford agreed with them. After Gerald told him about the murder, Tyson learned about it at first only through what he could see of its effects. Without explanation, Gerald stopped coming to school. Armed men protected the killers' house. Tyson's parents were uncharacteristically silent at the dinner table. It was years later that Tyson learned that the murder sparked an uprising in which dozens of young black men smashed the windows and destroyed other parts of more than a dozen white-owned businesses. The town's small police force was outnumbered and the chief and mayor, fearful of provoking further violence, let the rioters run that night. Many of those in uprising were, like Marrow, veterans of the war in Vietnam. They'd come home disappointed and angry that their sacrifices for their country hadn't earned them the full citizenship they'd have enjoyed automatically if they'd been white. Years later, one of them told Tyson, "We knew if we cost 'em enough goddamn money they was gonna start changing some things." Things did change in Oxford as in the United States, slowly and not yet completely. Tyson's efforts to chart that progress and to foster more took him on a decades-long quest. In his book, he describes tracking down documents about Marrow's murder, many of which had been taken from courthouses and libraries and hidden away from public view, apparently by white politicians fearful that their early support for bigoted thugs might be discovered by newly-empowered black voters. He interviews a wide range of those involved in the aftermaths of Marrow's killing, including the murderer. Tyson walks a tightrope while trying to capitalize on his friendship with the man's son while trying not to remind him of Tyson's father, whom Teel and others view as a "traitor" to his race. And Tyson takes side-trips down several paths that seem to lead away from the murder but perhaps to understanding of the larger issues involved. He guides his students, who are studying African-American history at a northern college, on a visit to a southern plantation. Slaves had once protested there and had been slaughtered by their masters, but now the place is a tourist attraction. It idealizes antebellum life while denying the slavery on which that life was founded. When Tyson and two of his friends, a white woman and a black man, are surprised to encounter a threatening remnant of Jim Crow in the 1990s, it elicits from the man a painful memory. Herman's parents met in Germany when his father was stationed in the U.S. Army. Years later, their daughter, Henry's sister, was killed in a firebombing evidently intended to drive them out of their white neighborhood in the northern United States. Exiled from the country whose uniform he continued to wear, Herman's brokenhearted father moved the family back to Germany. The land that had produced Hitler seemed safer for a mixed-race American family than the nation that had lifted up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tyson pulls together these diverse threads into a coherent narrative leading to his suggestion that America needs something like South Africa's reconciliation commission to heal its racial wounds. That's not likely any time soon. In the meantime, such beacons as Blood Done Sign My Name can help light the way to our personal reconciliations.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    This is a beautifully written and powerful (if a bit meandering) book. Read it for the story - it's both important and instructive - and for the interwoven family biography and especially for the routinely lyrical, uplifting writing. Here's how wonderful the writing is: I was ordering the author's new book and just happened to see the strong reviews for this one and responded to the prompt to read a bit and see what it's like. I couldn't stop reading, so moved was I by the beautiful, This is a beautifully written and powerful (if a bit meandering) book. Read it for the story - it's both important and instructive - and for the interwoven family biography and especially for the routinely lyrical, uplifting writing. Here's how wonderful the writing is: I was ordering the author's new book and just happened to see the strong reviews for this one and responded to the prompt to read a bit and see what it's like. I couldn't stop reading, so moved was I by the beautiful, soaring prose. I ordered it and paid extra to have it delivered the next day and managed to finish it four nights later during a week in nwhich I worked over 60 hours: it was so enthralling that, tired though I was, I read voraciously each night to finish it. Now, it's not perfect: For example, some of the historical, contextual jaunts seem superfluous and/or too long, but all are informative. Further, I can't help but think that the author is quite(/overly?) charitable with respect to his family members who're also profiled in this book: it's not that he excuses their foibles, necessarily, just that sometimes he seems overly surprised and/or understanding of behaviors of which he may not be as forgiving with others (or would seek more proof and take less on faith with respect to others). This being said, I was often amazed by the lyrical turns of phrase that are ubiquitous in this book, reflecting both the unique cadence of the South and the author's prodigious gifts. I want to share a few, but, honestly, there are so many, it's (too) hard to choose (so I'll just grab the book and open it to a random page). In this Black History Month, I'll share one example from the author's description of the reaction of many Americans to the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He suggests that we were "mourning a loss so deep as to defy easy assessment, even at a distance of decades." As I read this, I realized that it perfectly described my still-conflicted feelings about this hero's demise. OK, one more: in describing the country's experience at war, he notes "In the late 1960s ... the Vietnam War made more and more corpses and less and less sense...." Alright, the final one: in describing the world of White Supremacy in which he grew up, the author notes that it was "a society where white men made decisions and black women made dinners...." His turns of phrase can at times be as haunting as they are beautiful, which makes the meandering not only tolerable but often a gift of indelibly memorable imagery and prose. In sum, you learn a lot about the tragedy of Henry Marrow's death, about the segregated society that produced and condoned it and about the coming of age of a family whose worldview rubbed against this uncomfortably ... all told vividly and beautifully. In a weird way, the elegance of the narrative obscures the horror of the central tragedy in this work, though it also exposes and indicts the White Supremacy of the time all too powerfully and horribly. Read this book if you are interested in modern American History, Sociology and/or Biography. If you are a student of the South and its folkways, grab a copy and devour it like the rich treat that it is. And read it if you just flat out enjoy beautiful, lyrical writing. I cannot a recall a book that tells such a heinous story so incredibly as to make it such an enjoyable experience (while not diminishing the tragedy that is its genesis and the lessons that we should learn therefrom).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book did a great job of making the horrors of the racial struggles in the state real. I have a much better understanding now of what life was like and how very truly awful people have the capacity to be. That said, it was just too long. I think the work could have been tightened up considerably. I see no reason why he couldn't have done in 150-200 pages what he did in 310. He often gives too many examples. I can see he's doing this to give a richer context, but still. Enough is enough. Ther This book did a great job of making the horrors of the racial struggles in the state real. I have a much better understanding now of what life was like and how very truly awful people have the capacity to be. That said, it was just too long. I think the work could have been tightened up considerably. I see no reason why he couldn't have done in 150-200 pages what he did in 310. He often gives too many examples. I can see he's doing this to give a richer context, but still. Enough is enough. There's a kind of writing that makes me want to unburden the contents of my stomach, and unfortunately, that's about all this book is for about thirty pages. Once Tyson finally gets into things, it isn't quite so nauseating. Here are a coupe of examples, the recalling of which is no more pleasant than the first encounter. p. 4, "The attic fan in the top of the house pulled the gauzy white curtains inward on a cooling breeze..." p. 21, "If Mama's mind was flint and steel, her hands were soap and sympathy." One of the most insightful parts of the book is in Chapter 2, "Original Sins" in which Tyson writes, "Sex was sinful. And sin was sexual. Both of them were inextricably bound up with race..." He spends the next several pages writing about that inextricable bind. An interesting thing: On p. 53, Tyson writes, "Five thousand atteded a 1965 Klan wedding in a cornfield near Farmville." Farmville in 2010, according to the census, didn't even have a population of five thousand. There's a sort of who's who of the despicable North Carolinians. Helms and Charles B. Aycock, both gung-ho white supremacists, Aycock even getting dubbed the "Education Governor" for putting injecting his white supremacist views into the fabric of the educational system. Not a politician, but something timely in political relevance since the Supreme Court recently overturned it, there was mention (I didn't mark the page, alas) of the Voting Rights Act. I look forward to the book group's discussion. I'm adding a star after the discussion, which was very informative. Many of the women in the group were able to recount direct experience with the civil rights movement and had an overall favorable attitude toward the book. I failed to mention my favorite part of the book: The author's father took him and his brother to a KKK rally. They watched a cross burn. The father told his sons, asking why they had gone, that he wanted them to see what hate looks like.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    An amazing book, moving. Of a time in history that I lived through, but only saw from afar. My mother was from Smithfield, NC, which is mentioned in the book, but we never talked about the race relations in her town. We knew there was a sign outside of town, "Home of the KKK" that she was deeply ashamed of, but that was about it. There's a paragraph near the end of the book, as the author is researching the past: "Why linger on the past, which we cannot change? We must move on toward a brighter An amazing book, moving. Of a time in history that I lived through, but only saw from afar. My mother was from Smithfield, NC, which is mentioned in the book, but we never talked about the race relations in her town. We knew there was a sign outside of town, "Home of the KKK" that she was deeply ashamed of, but that was about it. There's a paragraph near the end of the book, as the author is researching the past: "Why linger on the past, which we cannot change? We must move on toward a brighter future and leave all that horror behind. It is true that we must make a new world. But we can't make it out of whole cloth. We have to weave the future from, the fabric of the past, from the patters of aspiration and belonging - and broken dreams and anguished rejections - that have made us. What the advocates of our dangerous and deepening social amnesia don't understand is how deeply the past holds the future in its grip - even, and perhaps especially, when it remains unacknowledged. We are runaway slaves from our own past, and only by turning to face the hounds can we find our freedom beyond them." This book has been on my shelf for a long time. Only now did I take it down to read. Perhaps due to what is happening in the US with the presidential race, with the hatred that has come out in raw public display. Tim Tyson (author) writes again: "Ralph Ellison expressed the central meaning of the blues better than anyone. "The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically." This book is a kind of blues expression that urges us to confront our rage, contradictions, and failures and the painful history of race in America. As in that history, there is no clean place in this story where anyone can sit down and congratulate themselves." I recommend this book to everyone I know, to better understand the world we grew up in, to better understand the world today and to think about how to move forward with all the challenges we face.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    I gave it three stars because this book was not what I expected from the title and descriptions on the cover. I thought it was going to be the story of this one incident, but instead it was a widespread and thorough analysis of race relations and inequality at the time, with the story thrown in near the end. In fact, by the time he finally got around to telling the story, I ended up running out of time and returning the library book unfinished. I did want to know how it ended, but just was tired I gave it three stars because this book was not what I expected from the title and descriptions on the cover. I thought it was going to be the story of this one incident, but instead it was a widespread and thorough analysis of race relations and inequality at the time, with the story thrown in near the end. In fact, by the time he finally got around to telling the story, I ended up running out of time and returning the library book unfinished. I did want to know how it ended, but just was tired of reading the book. It was rather slow paced. That said, it was an incredible eye opener. I had to re-evaluate my assumptions about race and realize that truly the problems faced by the African American community are a direct result of the terrible circumstances and limitations placed on them even into the 1970's! I had always thought, "Slavery ended over a hundred years ago, how could it be to blame?" This book opened my eyes to the fact that although slavery ended so long ago, African Americans were far, VERY far, from being equal citizens even well into the '70s (and it could be argued creditably that they are still not equal citizens even today). I am grateful to have had my eyes opened. In that way, this was a life changing read, even though I didn't finish it. I am ashamed of what our nation allowed to go on during the time period covered by this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I found this book to be a valiant yet failed attempt to deal with a very difficult historical topic in memoir form. Structurally, it was very obviously the product of a historian trying to write a literary narrative, which left the characters nebulous, the narrator ungrounded, and the "story-line" generally detached. Throughout the book I struggled with, and never really got over, the problems inherent in a white man's attempt to write another culture's history through the lens of experiences he I found this book to be a valiant yet failed attempt to deal with a very difficult historical topic in memoir form. Structurally, it was very obviously the product of a historian trying to write a literary narrative, which left the characters nebulous, the narrator ungrounded, and the "story-line" generally detached. Throughout the book I struggled with, and never really got over, the problems inherent in a white man's attempt to write another culture's history through the lens of experiences he barely understood during his childhood and adolescence. While the history is sensitive, it is also often appropriative; I was particularly disturbed with the use of a line from an African American spiritual, "Blood Done Sign My Name" as the title, especially because the "MY" implies that the narrator/author actually DID something other than spectate. While Tyson is indeed courageous to have attempted to put this history down on paper, particularly in the form of a "memoir," it was more problematic than self-aware. Perhaps this just wasn't his story to write (though I'm sure it will be argued, "Who will write it?").

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    “Daddy and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a n***.” That’s what 10-year-old Timothy B. Tyson’s friend Gerald told him as they were bouncing a basketball in the driveway in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970. That murder and the events that unfolded afterward would haunt Tyson in the years that followed. This is a powerful true story. I just read the epilogue through a second time and will probably read it again. In a sense, the author says this book is a story of the blues and a story of the gospel, both of “Daddy and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a n***.” That’s what 10-year-old Timothy B. Tyson’s friend Gerald told him as they were bouncing a basketball in the driveway in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970. That murder and the events that unfolded afterward would haunt Tyson in the years that followed. This is a powerful true story. I just read the epilogue through a second time and will probably read it again. In a sense, the author says this book is a story of the blues and a story of the gospel, both of which started as southern things but speak to the whole human dilemma. “The blues are about looking a painful history straight in the eye; the gospel is about coming together as a community of faith in order to rise beyond that anguish. If anyone wonders why a white boy from eastern North Carolina teaches black history in Wisconsin, the timeless wisdom of the blues has one answer….” Tyson says that as a nation and as individual human beings, we would rather hear gospel stories. We cherish those stories because we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it. But the future of our country depends upon an honest confrontation with our own history. The murder of Henry Marrow in Oxford, NC, the assassination of Dr. King and the loss of those whom the slave poets called “the many thousands gone” cannot be erased, and they must not be forgotten. But, Tyson says, that blood has the power to redeem our history if we name it and heed the call of justice that still waits for an answer.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This book is very good. Tyson writes clearly about his upbringing in the South and how his family, particularly his father, struggled with issues of racial injustice. There are some harsh moments, but he does a better job than most in showing the hypocrisies of the times and then how our current memories of those times are a little too rosy colored.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    Part memoir and part civil rights documentary, this tells about a lynching in the early 1970's in the small North Carolina town where Tyson grew up. He was about 10 or 11 at the time, and his memories of the event from a child's perspective, his stories of his white preacher father trying to bring the notion of racial equality to his white parishioners, and the intense research Tyson did as an adult into the crime that rocked his childhood.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    He was a great professor and this book was riveting. Gave so much insight into his life and reason for doing what he does. It was a good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Somehow, I am 15 years late to the party, but this book is as relevant as ever. I have lived in North Carolina my whole life, and I wish I could say that I had never witnessed racism first hand, but I have, and sometimes from surprising sources. I wish that I hadn’t seen or heard it in recent years, but I have. I wish that the Klan’s presence in NC really was just a toothless remnant of its former self, a handful of crazies making the occasional mess, but it isn’t. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’ Somehow, I am 15 years late to the party, but this book is as relevant as ever. I have lived in North Carolina my whole life, and I wish I could say that I had never witnessed racism first hand, but I have, and sometimes from surprising sources. I wish that I hadn’t seen or heard it in recent years, but I have. I wish that the Klan’s presence in NC really was just a toothless remnant of its former self, a handful of crazies making the occasional mess, but it isn’t. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was quite a bit different from growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, but I recognized echoes my parents’ and grandparents’ stories in these pages — the time my grandmother accidentally walked in on a sit-in in Winston Salem with her toddlers in tow, impressed by the brave young people she saw there, or the time my father’s high school football team stopped for dinner on the way home from an away game, and he ate on the bus with a teammate who wasn’t welcome in the restaurant. Wounds like this do not heal quickly, and my family’s stories are the prettier ones, and come from the vantage point of privilege. Since we are living in a time when the president makes excuses for hate-group rallies that end in murder, this book is as important as it has ever been — even if it, too comes from the self-acknowledged vantage point of privilege.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Riah

    Having grown up around Tim, I absorbed many of the stories in this throughout my childhood, but that doesn't make reading them any less powerful. Tim's writing is excellent and gives both a clear sense of him as a person, Henry Marrow's death and its aftermath, and the connections to its place in American culture and the development of the civil rights and black power movements, which is fitting for a book that is equal parts memoir and history. So much of what Americans (and white Americans in Having grown up around Tim, I absorbed many of the stories in this throughout my childhood, but that doesn't make reading them any less powerful. Tim's writing is excellent and gives both a clear sense of him as a person, Henry Marrow's death and its aftermath, and the connections to its place in American culture and the development of the civil rights and black power movements, which is fitting for a book that is equal parts memoir and history. So much of what Americans (and white Americans in particular) believe about our racial history is just flat wrong, and reading this book is one way of dispelling the erroneous soothing idea that the movement for civil rights in America was ever anything but brutal.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite

    This is an odd mix of history and autobiography, with cultural commentary to spare, but it works. The murder of Henry Marrow changed author Timothy Tyson's life, serving as a prism through which he viewed the civil rights movement, sometimes from a front-row seat. It focuses on the North Carolina town of Oxford, but also looks at race relations in Raleigh and the state and Wilmington. Interestingly, civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis figures in the story Tyson tells. It's an ugly story, but one This is an odd mix of history and autobiography, with cultural commentary to spare, but it works. The murder of Henry Marrow changed author Timothy Tyson's life, serving as a prism through which he viewed the civil rights movement, sometimes from a front-row seat. It focuses on the North Carolina town of Oxford, but also looks at race relations in Raleigh and the state and Wilmington. Interestingly, civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis figures in the story Tyson tells. It's an ugly story, but one that needs to be remembered. The books will ensure that; efforts were made to sanitize public records -- including court records and newspaper archives -- when Tyson started asking questions. Tyson's father figures in the story. He writes about being afraid of his father but never connects that to storytelling about his father, who comes across as a Gandhi-like figure. That's one weakness of the book. Another is Tyson's eagerness to include stories/research (a class visit he arranged to a former slave plantation in Louisiana) that have little to do with his subject. It takes away from the drama of his subject. Tyson has a gift for words: "The power of white skin in the South of my childhood was both stark and subtle. White supremacy permeated daily life so deeply that most people could no more ponder it than a fish might discuss the wetness of water. Our racial etiquette was at once bizarre and arbitrary, seemingly natural and utterly confusing." "Vernon Tyson's rich baritone was the voice of God. The only problem was that you never knew if you were going to get the Old or the New Testament." Worth reading, especially for those who didn't experience desegregation in the South. It provides context for some dynamics still in evidence

  29. 4 out of 5

    Orion

    This book is based on a racially-motivated murder in Oxford, NC in May of 1970. A white man and his two sons beat and shot a black man because they claimed he talked disrespectfully to the white wife of one of the sons. Despite eye-witnesses, the men were not convicted. Timothy Tyson was a friend of the younger brother of the murderers and the 10-year old son of a liberal white Oxford Methodist minister at the time of the shooting. He is now a professor in African-American Studies at the Univers This book is based on a racially-motivated murder in Oxford, NC in May of 1970. A white man and his two sons beat and shot a black man because they claimed he talked disrespectfully to the white wife of one of the sons. Despite eye-witnesses, the men were not convicted. Timothy Tyson was a friend of the younger brother of the murderers and the 10-year old son of a liberal white Oxford Methodist minister at the time of the shooting. He is now a professor in African-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He first told this story in his Duke University master's thesis: Burning for Freedom: White Terror and Black Power in Oxford, North Carolina. This book is much more than the facts behind a murder. It lays out the events of the murder in two settings. The first is his one life as a son of a liberal minister growing up in North Carolina. The second is the context of race relations in the South since the beginning of slavery. White authors can only dimly understand the effects of racial prejudice on Black Southerners, but Dr. Tyson does a good job of laying out some of the events that created the segregated North Carolina that existed at the time of the Oxford murder. I found it a most profound statement of the effects of racism in North Carolina. One small incident stands out to me as a librarian in North Carolina. In researching his thesis and this book, Dr. Tyson sought out copies of the Oxford Public Ledger only to find the Oxford Public Library's microfilm copies for the era had mysteriously disappeared. The newspaper's own copies were also missing. He even claims that the North Carolina State Archives copies are missing and says: "Someone had gone to considerable lengths to destroy the paper trail" (Page 295).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the third time that I've read this book and each time I come away with a new understanding. Everyone who lived through the civil rights period in America, or who has studied that period needs to read this book. Especially people, like myself, who live in southern Virginia or northern North Carolina because the book is rooted in that soil. Timothy Tyson is a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also white. When he was ten years old, he was li This is the third time that I've read this book and each time I come away with a new understanding. Everyone who lived through the civil rights period in America, or who has studied that period needs to read this book. Especially people, like myself, who live in southern Virginia or northern North Carolina because the book is rooted in that soil. Timothy Tyson is a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also white. When he was ten years old, he was living in Oxford, North Carolina where his father was the pastor of the all-white Methodist Church. On May 11, 1970, Robert Teel and two of his sons, in public, killed Henry Marrow. Marrow was a 23 year old Vietnam veteran. Teel and his sons beat Marrow and then shot him as he pleaded for his life. The town of Oxford was ripped apart by this incident. The Klan rallied and moved in the shadows and young black men who had been drafted and sent to Vietnam to fight for "freedom" burned the town's tobacco warehouses. Tyson's father pleaded for calm and racial harmony. That stance cost him his job and the family had to move out of town. Tyson went back to Oxford as an undergraduate student and then again as a graduate student to try to understand what had happened in both the black and white communities during that horrible summer. Ultimately he confronts Robert Teel and asks him why he murdered Henry Marrow. While the book gets a little preachy toward the end, I can certainly understand that. This book is a classic study of race relations and a case study of how social change affects the residents of one small town in the south and should be read by a wide audience.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.