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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25.

East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

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

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Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
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Lyndsay Eli with GUNSLINGER GIRL (YA Novel) at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

January 20, 2018 from 6pm to 7pm
Are you a fan of The Hunger Games?  Then picture what Katniss would be like - with a gun.  That's just a taste of the "new" West action Lyndsay Eli brings to Spellbound Children's Bookshop with Gunslinger Girl.  She shares her debut novel on Saturday, January 20, at 6 p.m. The US has been fractured by a Second Civil War. Serendipity 'Pity' Jones finds a home of sorts in the corrupt, lawless city of Cessation (think Las Vegas on steroids).  Her shooting skills make her a star of the Theater…See More
Nov 20
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Nov 15
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
Oct 8
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post

How To Kill Your Reader

Danger is a crucial element in a mystery novel. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe. But sometimes the killer can be the writer, and the victim, the reader.I'm talking about when the author turns into a preacher and the story becomes a sermon. Now I am not against using a mystery novel for social commentary. Writing doesn't happen in a moral vacuum, and, after all, isn't a mystery a morality play? As fellow North Carolina author Margaret Maron said there is no topic that can't be dealt…See More
Oct 5
Mark de Castrique posted a video

Hidden Scars - A Sam Blackman Mystery

Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson investigate a 70-year-old death that unleashes a killer.
Oct 3
Mark de Castrique posted a discussion

Black Mountain College as Backdrop for Mystery

My new book, HIDDEN SCARS, is released Oct 3rd.  D.G. Martin notes the star of the story is Black Mountain College.  http://chapelboro.com/town-square/columns/one-on-one/one-one-lost-college-still-shinesSee More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming book--Sacred Sites for Secular Times

Sacred Sites for Secular Times: 50 Commemorative Experiences in Western North Carolina by Rob Neufeld              Among the many sites dedicated to history, there are some—both overbooked and overlooked—that provide full and moving experiences.  They involve a physical component, connecting to landscape; an imaginative one, entering other times and minds; and an interactive one, maintaining relevance.             The entries in this book help create full experiences through descriptive…See More
Sep 25
Susan Weinberg posted events
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Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 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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