Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March with Me by Rosalie Turner (Review, Book Trailer)



Like a tornado, the civil rights movement struck Birmingham in the spring of ’63.  In this coming of age novel we are swept into the separate cultures of the south. 

Two girls, one black and one white, endure the pain and prejudice of segregation. The girls mature and pursue the same profession until one fateful day when a force of nature sweeps in and rearranges their lives.


“Definition of a tornado – (and also, perhaps the civil rights movement) – a tempest distinguished by a rapid whirling and slow progressive movement.”

Rosalie Turner 


 
Rosalie Turner is the award-winning author of six books.  Her novel, Sisters of Valor,recently received the Military Writers Society of America Bronze Award for Fiction.

She also won the JC Penney Award for establishing an inner city reading program in Jacksonville FL.

Rosalie divides her time between New Mexico and Alabama.

Author website:  www.rosalieturner.com







I had the chance to ask the author, Rosalie Turner, one question. That question was:  At the end of all the research and the writing of your book, what did you come away with personally? What spoke to your heart? This is what she told me.
  

As a historical novelist I expect to come away from my research with so much more knowledge about a subject, and I expected that with March With Me, but I got so much more than that.

The reason might be because the subject is the Civil Rights Movement. We all know facts and dates about it. We know the names and activities of the leaders. But to get into the subject, the times, and the place of the Civil Rights Movement I wanted to know the individual stories of the “everyday” people who lived through it. And I wanted to know the issues from both sides, the black and the white.

Beginning with a group of both black & white people who had been teenagers and young adults during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama, I spoke with each one personally and listened to their stories. Then I went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Archives and read every one of the oral histories, first of those who had marched in the Children’s March, then others.  My research went on from there – the newspaper archives from those days, books written on the subject, etc. But it was those very personal stories that were so powerful for me.

I came away with an understanding of how strong the black community had been in those times, how diligently parents, teachers, and ministers had worked to build the skills  that young people needed in order to face the difficulties of a segregated world. I came to understand the power of a strong community in ways I had never realized before.

And something I had not expected – I came to understand the white community better and how our attitudes are formed. I knew, of course, the emotions connected with the subject of the Civil Rights Movement. They are part of the fabric of the south. Now, however, my knowledge and understanding have reached a deeper level.

The courage of all those –white and black –who participated in so many ways to bring us to a better place is something that has truly touched my heart.

The main thing I have learned is that there is so much misunderstanding on both sides of the race issue. During the segregation years, whites and blacks lived such separate lives that they don’t have a clue about what life was like for the other race, what their everyday life was like, what their hopes and dreams were, nothing. Many of those barriers still exist, and will continue until we share our stories.

So, what I am taking away from March With Me is a passion to work toward racial reconciliation, to help us share our stories, to challenge us all of every race to progress from wherever we are on the continuum of prejudice toward greater understanding.

Award-winning author Rosalie Turner has been writing for almost 30 years. Her fifth book won a Military Writers Society Award for Fiction, and her initiation of inner city reading programs garnered her the JC Penney Award.  Endorsed by Alma (Mrs. Colin) Powell, March With Me, released March 15.  Visit with Rosalie Turner at www.rosalieturner.com.



“There are those who write history. There are those who make history. There are those who experience history. I don’t know how many historians we have in Birmingham tonight. I don’t know how many of you could write a history book , but you are certainly making history and experiencing history. You will make it possible for the historians of the future to write a marvellous history.”


Excerpt:



“Dr. King,” one man stood, dressed in a worn but well-ironed blue shirt and khaki pants, “We understand what y’all wanna do here, but look at it for us. You come and get things all stirred up, then y’all go away, and we’re left with the mess; no jobs, the Klan after any a’ us that marched. What you think’s gonna happen to us then?” he sat down, a frown on his dark, lined face.

“I do understand, but y’all need to look at the big picture, what marching will accomplish,” Dr. King responded.

            A woman jumped up and shook her finger at Dr. King. “The big picture? Let me tell you something. The ‘big picture’ is what we made for our ownselves here. We keep our children safe, dr. king. We keep our neighborhoods close-knit so we watch over everybody’s children. Our churches, our schools, our neighborhoods – they be the center of our lives. We built up our own business on fourth avenue so our children don’t need never to go downtown and find out the hard way how the whites treat us. we look out for all the children as long as we can. And we, grown-ups, we walk the straight line so we don’t agitate no whites. We do our work, we never look them in the eye, we never ‘spect them to call us Miz or Mister, and we stay quiet. We know what we got to do to survive.” Her voice rose even louder, her hands punctuating every word. “And y’all come here, stirring trouble, causing riots, and who’s gonna get hurt? Us. We lose our jobs, or our houses, or even our lives, Dr. King. And that’s the ‘big picture.’” She sat down to a chorus of amens and “tell it, Sister.”

Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart and “Tall Paul” Dudley White, popular black DJs on radio station WENN, urged the kids on with coded words. Negro kids knew that when Shelley Stewart gave his jive talk about having a party or a picnic, he was really talking about marching for the Movement.

My Review


“History weaves its silent strands around us, around and around us until we are part of its fabric. Later we wonder, “When did that happen? How did it happen?” History happens while we’re living our lives; our everyday lives of going to school, going to work, going to the store, giving and taking, laughing and crying, dreaming an doing.”

While March with Me is written as fiction, it tells a true story. The author has managed to capture the life and times of the negroes and whites in a tumultuous time in 1963 Birmingham at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. She tells the story through the lives of Letitia and Martha Ann, each having led a sheltered existence in their own respective communities.

“Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 – where two worlds existed: one for Negroes limited by invisible barriers and one for whites, unaware that the barriers also limited them. It was a very different time, a time when whites and blacks lived completely separate lives, knowing nothing about the other’s reality, much less their beliefs, hopes, and dreams.  And so into the texture of life in Alabama were woven strands of mistrust, fear, and hatred: a perfect place for the civil rights movement to rip forth.”

The civil unrest affected the whites and blacks in different ways and the author did a great job depicting each side. The reader can feel the pain of the water spray as the firemen turned the hoses on against the protesters; as well as the uncertainty of the white people at what was happening in what had been a peaceful community.

"He said all right kids, there’s gonna be a party in the park. And don't forget your toothbrushes because luncheon will be served.’ And we all know what that means. Be ready to go to jail. Be ready."

I was a young child at the time the movement began, but grew up during the years when everything began to change. I remember starting my education in an all white school and entering junior high at a desegregated school. I remember the unrest that followed me through high school graduation. There were years that the buses rolled in to the school parking lots on the last day of school, only to have students not allowed to disembark, and having final report cards distributed to us as we sat on the buses and then sent home, the threat of violence too great to ignore. It was a frightening time for the country.

Between Connie and Martha Ann
"My daddy says if people don't like you ’cause you have a different opinion than they do, we'll, they aren't the kind of friends you want anyway. "

I found March with Me to be educating, and enjoyed how the author used the lives of two girls, who experienced the uprising in different manners, to tell the story. It was enlightening and well worth the read.

I thought some of the grandmother’s words of wisdom worth repeating as they apply to all races.

Now, ’member this sugar. You got to ’member where you come from do you know where you is going. ’

"Now, sugar, when I die, I don't want you grieving on and on, hear me? I want you to ’member all the things u told you, and when you're thinking about them, it's like I'll still be there, see? As long as someone's ’membering you, you never die."


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Disclaimer/Disclosure. I received a complimentary copy of this book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art, book description, and any excerpts are courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. Book Trailers are a free feature. All videos are provided by the author who has granted My Life. One Story at a Time. permission to post them on this blog. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of My Life. One Story at a Time. My Life. One Story at a Time. is an advertising affiliate with Amazon, a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.


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