Like many small Southern towns, Oxford, North Carolina, had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets, led by 22-year-old Ben Chavis, a future president of the NAACP. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Ku Klux Klan raged in the shadows and black veterans torched the town's tobacco warehouses. With large sections of the town in flames, Tyson's father, the pastor of Oxford's all-white Methodist church, pressed his congregation to widen their vision of humanity. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.
Years later, historian Tim Tyson returned to Oxford to ask Robert Teel why he and his sons had killed Henry Marrow. "That nigger committed suicide, coming in here wanting to four-letter-word my daughter-in-law," Teel explained. The black radicals who burned much of Oxford also told Tim their stories. "We knew if we cost 'em enough goddamn money they was gonna start changing some things," one of them explained.
In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, Blood Done Sign My Name is a classic work of conscience, a defining portrait of a time and place that we will never forget. Tim Tyson's riveting narrative of that fiery summer and one family's struggle to build bridges in a time of destruction brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to our complex history, where violence and faith, courage and evil, despair and hope all mingle to illuminate America's enduring chasm of race.
©2004 Timothy B. Tyson; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a divison of Random House, Inc.
"Outstanding....Tyson's avoidance of stereotypes and simple answers brings a shameful recent era in our country's history to vivid life. This book deserves the largest possible audience." (Publishers Weekly)
Timothy Tyson's book "Blood Done Sign My Name" was a very interesting and thought provoking listen. I was surprised and shocked to hear some of the details of the murder and attitude of people in Oxford North Carolina. Parts of it reminded me of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird". Considering that Lee was writing about the 1930's and Tyson's story happened in the 1970's showed just how little had changed in 40 years. Even more disheartening was to hear that historical sites in North Carolina still don't talk about what happened to many of the blacks who gave their lives to the land and died in the cause of freedom. The prejudice of many of the people was hard for me to understand but I feel I learned so much listening to this book.
Dickie's family and friends may not have got justice from the courts but they may take some comfort in knowing that because of Tyson's book he won't be forgotten.
The story pivots from the death of black victim Dickie Marrow. Dickie was a young husband, father, and father-to-be whose live was snatched by three perpetrators "because they could!" The author follows his own personal progression from his childhood confusion about the neighborhood event to his adult yearning to learn "Why?" The writing and reading bring the deep South to life during the civil rights era. The book is good; so worth my time and money. I had hours of "on the edge" enjoyment.
Beyond the fascinating dramatic account, the book demands introspection. The book helped me to account for some of the demons and ugly truths that are inside (myself). My perception of he or she that is "not like me" will never be the same, thanks to this book.
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