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The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.

The history of Oakley

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History May 13, 2016.

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Dr. Lin Stepp posted an event

Dr. Lin Stepp at Barnes & Noble, Asheville Mall at Tunnel Road

May 13, 2017 from 2pm to 4pm
Lin Stepp will sign her latest Smoky Mtn novel DADDY'S GIRL set in NCSee More
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at Montreat College, Gaither Fellowship Hall

June 10, 2017 from 12pm to 2:30pm
Author Vicki Lane, who is working on her seventh novel, will be the guest speaker at the Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at noon on Saturday, June 10, 2017 in Gaither Fellowship Hall.  Reservations: 669-8012 Ext. 3502Open to the Public.See More
Apr 22
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Rose Senehi will read from her new novel: CAROLINA BELLE at MALAPROPS BOOKS & CAFE

May 3, 2017 from 7pm to 8:30pm
Belle McKenzie is obsessed with finding the best apple anyone ever bit into and determined to rekindle the love this obsession has nearly destroyed.        Woven throughout Carolina Belle is the fascinating history of Henderson County, North Carolina’s, apple orchards that endlessly unfold on the county’s horizons and still bear the same names as the early settlers to the area. Senehi, known for her historically accurate novels, sprinkles the book with stories of the development of the Southern…See More
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Becky Stone Presents Maya Angelou

Chautauqua Alive! Becky Stone Presents Maya AngelouWednesday, May 24 at 6:30pmPack Memorial Library67 Haywood Street250-4700The Buncombe Chautauqua Committee and Pack Memorial Library will present a pre-Chautauqua special event in Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library at 6:30 Pm on May 24.  Renowned storyteller Becky Stone will present “Becoming Maya Angelou.”   Ms. Stone will be appearing as Maya Angelou in the opening program of the annual Chautauqua series that begins June 19.  On May 24,…See More
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Prize-winning YA author Sedgwick at Literacy fundraiser

Fundraiser for Literacy Council & Book Launch Marcus Sedgwick Tuesday April 25th 5:30-7:30 p.m., Twisted Laurel, downtown Asheville, 130 College Street COST: $45 per person (ticket includes hardcover book, food, and non-alcoholic beverage) All proceeds go to Literacy Council from press release Marcus Sedgwick, author of Saint Death Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville's locally owned independent bookstore for kids and teens, presents a special event with one of the most critically…See More
Apr 17
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Dellinger Mill--sacred place east of Bakersville

A Mitchell County gristmill sifts through 150 yearsby Rob Neufeld PHOTO CAPTION: Book cover, “Dellinger Grist Mill on Cane Creek” by Jack Dellinger.             In 1861, when Bakersville got a post office, locals changed the town name from Bakersville to Davis, after Jefferson Davis, President of the…See More
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Reading by Poet Al Young at Table Rock Room, Plemmons Student Union, App State University

April 6, 2017 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
A reading by past California Poet Laureate Al Young in Appalachian State's Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. The reading will be preceded by a craft talk titled "No Poem, No Home" from 2-3:15 the same day.Both are in ASU's Plemmons Student Union. Free admission; books will be available for sale and signing. See More
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Citizen science author in Asheville April 6

Eco author in Asheville April 6 Citizen science can foster earth-saving policies Journalist Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, speaks at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 7 p.m., Thursday, April 6 in conversation with Mallory McDuff, Warren Wilson…See More
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Appalachian Authors Book Signing and Reading at Historic Carson House

April 8, 2017 from 10am to 3pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author and reader at the Appalachian Authors  Book Signing and Reading to be held at the Historic Carson House on Saturday, April 8 from 10-3. She will debut her new poetry collection A Part of Me. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.See More
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Mar 22

Tyson’s Emmett Till book probes darkness

by Rob Neufeld

EVENT: Timothy Tyson discusses his book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 6 p.m., Wed., Feb. 15.  828-254-6734.

 

            The headline about the publication of Timothy Tyson’s new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” has been: “Accuser recants testimony 60 years later.”

            In 2007, Tyson had contacted Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant, and landed the only interview with her since an all-white Mississippi jury had exonerated the lynchers—Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband; and J.W. Milam, Roy’s thug-like half-brother.

            Bryant had invited Tyson because she’d just read his first book, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a memoir about his childhood in Oxford, N.C., and the lynching event through which he’d lived.  Plus, the recording of the trial had just been found, and its transcript released.

            So Bryant’s recantation, withheld by Tyson for timing impact, was big news.

            But there are two other possible headlines, based on Tyson’s work:

            “Why the Till lynching is the most notorious racial incident in history” and: ‘How African-Americans made a successful protest.”

            Tyson illustrates his history with detail and feeling, becoming turgid only when chronicling national trends, and rising to a call for the end of white supremacy.

 

Portrait of a hero

 

            Tyson’s portrayal of Emmett Till’s mom, Mamie Bradley, is legendary.

            As soon as she got the news of Emmett’s death—she was in their hometown, Chicago—she called the press, her only avenue of power.  When Tallahatchie County officials moved to bury Emmett immediately, she stopped that action; and she overruled others by requiring an open casket at Emmett’s funeral.

            Her emotional power came through when she cried to Emmett’s corpse, “My darling, my darling, I know I was on your mind when you died.”

            Emmett had been a protected, happy-go-lucky boy who’d regularly attended church and emulated comic George Sobel.  Emmett’s death, as Tyson reveals in a late chapter, had been horrible, having followed broken bones and mutilations.

            Reporters mobbed Mrs. Bradley when she arrived in Mississippi.  The “Chicago Defender,” an African-American newspaper, reported that Mamie shouted out, “Lord you gave your only son to remedy a condition, but who knows but what the death of my only son might bring an end to lynching.”

 

Exposing complexity

 

            In his effort to end racism, Tyson strives to humanize the villains (except for Milam) and cast the net of accountability wide.

            The interview with Bryant must have greatly impressed him. 

            In her tween years, Carolyn had been best friends with a black neighbor, Barnes Freeman, until Barnes had invited Carolyn to ride on his bike and her aunt Mabel had suddenly panicked at the threat.

            Carolyn’s father had been a prison guard who had refused to whip black prisoners.  After his death, she’d eloped with Roy Bryant and became part of a family who used the n word a lot and made family loyalty the number one ethic.

            Tyson repeatedly shines a light on what he calls a “fallen world” and the way racism corrupts all of America. 

            That includes Chicago, where the segregated African-American ghetto was called “Little Mississippi”; and where, in 1953, white mobs besieged African-Americans who moved into a white neighborhood.

            The depths and ironies of the big story is that Mississippi supremacists used Chicago’s ills in defense of themselves and of their symbols, Milam and Bryant.

            The defense position is a study in twisted logic and conspiracy theory.

            H.C. Strider, the Tallahatchie County sheriff, announced, as the trial was going on, “I’m chasing down some evidence now that the killing might have been planned and plotted by the NAACP.”

            In court, the defense team questioned whether the body pulled out of the river with a fan tied to its neck with barbed wire was actually Emmett, or even black—though, as Tyson, comments, the sheriff sent the body to an African-American funeral home.  Also, the body was wearing the ring Emmett’s father, Louis, had given him.

            (John Edgar Wideman’s new book, “Writing to Save a Life,” poetically and probingly explores the life of Louis Till, who was hanged by the U.S. Army.)

            The aim of the defense strategy was to speak to the jury.  Mamie was branded as an outsider and a traitor to Mississippi.  Emmett, according to exaggerated and false accounts, was accused of threatening Southern white womanhood.

            “The contradiction of a defense team strategizing to introduce a motive for a crime they professed their clients did not commit,” Tyson writes, “provided glaring evidence, if any were needed, that the trial had never been about justice.”

 

Memory and history

 

            In his recreations and deductions, there’s one scenario that Tyson doesn’t shed enough light on—what may have actually happened with Carolyn Bryant in Bryant’s Grocery.  Emmett had gone there with friends, who dared him to ask Carolyn for a date?  I find that preposterous, unless his friends and cousins hated him, which they didn’t.

            Tyson may have felt he didn’t have enough information to get imaginative in a true way, for, after all, fake news and false memories are some of Tyson’s targets. 

            “We must look at the facts squarely,” Tyson proclaims, and he quotes W.E.B. Du Bois: “This country has had its appetite for facts on the Negro question spoiled by sweets.”

            Facts do allow Tyson to bolster legends.  African-American doctor T.R.M. Howard founded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership in Mississippi; and built an armed compound at which witnesses, activists, and reporters found sanctuary. 

            Rev. Moses Wright, from whose house Emmett had been kidnapped, testified at the killers’ trial despite two recent assassinations of African-American trouble-makers.  A photo of him identifying Milam by pointing at him from the witness stand became famous.

            The heroes were effective.  The Emmett Till story became historic and marks the years 1954-55 as one the large convulsions in our country’s progress. 

            In 1954, Brown v. the Board of Education required the integration of public schools.  Milam himself blamed that Supreme Court decision for the murder of Till.  Till’s influence, as Mamie had intended, continues to shape events.

            Rosa Parks decided to refuse to stand on the Montgomery bus four days after she’d heard a speech about Till.  The African-American N.C. A&T students who staged a sit-in at the Greensboro Woolworth’s had been moved by the legacy of Till. 

            Six decades later, Tyson notes, protestors at the trial of the police officer who had killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, shouted, “Say his name!  Emmett Till!”

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly book feature for the Sunday Citizen-Times.  He is the author and editor of six books, and the publisher of the website, “The Read on WNC.”   He can be reached at RNeufeld@charter.net and 505-1973.  Follow him @WNC_chronicler.

 

 

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