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Publisher's Summary

The battle for civil rights was not won in the '60s, certainly not in many parts of the country. It never touched Oxford, North Carolina, where young Tim Tyson was growing up. In 1970, when a black man was killed in the town square by a Klansman and his sons, and an all-white jury acquitted the murderers, both blacks and whites were swept into a firestorm. Amid the violence and fear that enveloped the town, Tim's father attempted to bring the two sides together, only to be reviled as a traitor to both sides. Tim, now a professor of African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin, has written a memoir of that turbulent summer, and has gone back, 30 years later, to find a remnant of scorched justice.
©2004 Timothy B. Tyson; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a divison of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Caleb
  • Madison, WI, USA
  • 03-22-05

This Is A Very Good Book

Listening to Tyson describe the North Carolina of the 1960s, I was reminded how much the world has changed in the last half century. Ku Klux Klan rallies, widespread white supremacism, corrupt judicial systems -- that culture of hate is almost unrecognizeable today. In addition to solid history and a gripping true crime narrative, the book includes thoughtful sections on nonviolence. Tyson shows that much of the nonviolence movement of the 1960s was a myth, and that violence and physical force were necessary to change our culture. This book is filled with big ideas and big questions, but it is written in a plain style that is easy to understand. It is smart without being difficult. Highly recommended.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

First Person History

Dr. Tyson combines careful -- and compassionate -- research with personal experiences to display what it was like to live in Eastern North Carolina in the racial turbulent 1960s and 1970s. This is a very powerful book to hear in the intimacy of earphones.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

About the myths Americans tell themselves

Americans love their sanitized, After-School Special version of the civil rights movement, in which we've progressed inevitably from the bad old days of slavery to the modern day where racism is just the occasional gaffe that gets a news commentator fired or a few hicks wearing sheets way off in the boonies. Tim Tyson strips away this mythology in his story of a black man who was murdered in 1970 by a violent, mean-tempered white business owner, allegedly for flirting with his daughter-in-law. Six years after the Civil Rights Act, Oxford, North Carolina was still a segregated town where white supremacy ruled, unapologetically. But when the all-white jury acquitted Robert Teal even of any lesser charge like manslaughter, the town's African American population rose up in outrage, and Oxford's businesses burned.

Decades later, Tyson, who was eleven years old at the time, and whose father was a liberal white desegregationist minister who was subsequently driven out of town, came back to interview everyone involved, including the murderer, Robert Teal. Blood Done Sign My Name is the result of that project, but it's also a look at how Americans have always lied to themselves about our country's race relations, and continue to do so to this day. Slave owners said, "Our slaves are like part of the family." In the 1990s, Tyson took a group of students to a Southern plantation that had been the site of a bloody slave uprising, and found it turned into an antebellum theme park with hardly any mention of slavery. The murder of Henry Marrow is really just a small part of this story.

This book was what became Tyson's Master's thesis, and it's powerful and engaging and contains many truths that still bear repeating, over and over.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent and Eloquent

Incredible and gripping account that is a well told biography, an account of a racist murder in Oxford North Carolina, and thoughtful history of American history, a history that is not taught in schools. "We want to transcend history without actually confronting it", and the past, sadly is also the present. This is a masterpiece and fully recommended.

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Fantastic!

A must read for any native North Carolinian. A book that can change outlooks and lives.

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Powerful story of intersectionality

Tyson's narrative of a white boyhood in Eastern North Carolina can be a transformative expeprience for those still uncertain about depths of the evils of white supremacy.

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Very few books have made me sob

I could not bring myself to read this book for a long, long time. As a 39 year old Black man from Reidsville, NC these horrific events occurred less than 100 miles from where I grew up and less than a decade before I was born. This book forced me to confront the fact that the horror of racism isn't something that happened in the past as the past is closer to the present than it is to history.

I escaped by the grace of God. I lead a middle class lifestyle. My parents don't speak of the past. They have locked it away. If not for books like this then the history would be lost. Losing that history would be a greater tragedy for blood done sign my name.

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Powerful and important book. Highly recommend.

I was given a copy of this book many years ago. I had never really read it. I have been moved beyond words. This book takes you through the full range of human emotion from sickening to hope in humanity. The raw honesty and willingness to dig deep and face the truth of our history is such a rare find.

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Great Book!

I really enjoyed this book, and I would highly recommend to a friend or someone looking for a good read.

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  • B Rose
  • Ivins, UT USA
  • 01-12-15

Great book, teriffic narrator

Would you listen to Blood Done Sign My Name again? Why?

No. Why would I?

Who was your favorite character and why?

Hard to decide

Which scene was your favorite?

Also hard to say

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No it was too long for that.

Any additional comments?

This is a very good book about so much more than a killing.