At the mere age of ten, the author of the book Tim Tyson heard one of his childhood friends in Oxford, N.C.elatedly come out with the words that were to have an impact which would affect him for the rest of his life: “Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger!”. The hardhearted street murder of young Henry Marrow by a go-getting, quick-tempered local businessman and his family in the spring of 1970 would rapidly fan the long-flickering flames of cultural disagreement in the swollen with pride, inward-looking tobacco town into angry outbursts of rage and street violence. This was something that was would also turn the white Tyson down a long, distressed understanding with his Southern roots that sooner or later led to a professorship in African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison–and this overpoweringly heartrending, if severely disconcerting personal meditation on the true costs of America’s chronological ethnic divide.
The title of the book has been taken from a traditional African-American devout, Tyson competently intertwines perceptive memoirs (the father of the author was the town’s anti-segregationist Methodist minister, as well as being a man whose sense of right and wrong and human graciousness greatly informs the son) with a scrupulously nuanced historical investigation that gives emphasis to how little really changed in the years and decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1965 by all accounts ended racial segregation.
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