Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Signing in Marion, Alabama

Bernice Albertine King (born March 28, 1963) is the second daughter and youngest child of civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King. Her older siblings are Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and the late Yolanda Denise King. Bernice was only five years old when her father died and is the only King child to become a minister.

I attended my first book signing yesterday (7-21-2012) since relocating to the historic city of Marion in west central Alabama two weeks ago. The venue was the Lincoln Normal School's Phillips Memorial Auditorium.I enjoyed getting out and meeting more people of Marion.

"Desert Rose" details Coretta Scott King's upbringing in a family of proud, land-owning African Americans with a profound devotion to the ideals of social equality and the values of education, as well as her later role as her husband's most trusted confidant and advisor. Coretta Scott King--noted author, human rights activist, and wife and partner of famed Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.--grew up in the rural Alabama Black Belt with her older sister, Edythe Scott Bagley. Bagley chronicles the sisters' early education together at the Crossroads School and later at the progressive Lincoln School in Marion. She describes Coretta's burgeoning talent for singing and her devotion to musical studies, and the sisters' experiences matriculating at Antioch College, an all-white college far from the rural South. Bagley provides vivid insights into Coretta's early passion for racial and economic justice, which lead to her involvement in the Peace Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As Coretta's older sister, Edythe shared in almost all of Coretta's many trials and tribulations. "Desert Rose" charts Coretta's hesitance about her romance with Martin Luther King and the prospect of having to sacrifice her dream of a career in music to become a minister's wife. Ultimately, Coretta chose to utilize her artistic gifts and singing voice for the Movement through the development and performance of Freedom Concerts. This book also charts Coretta's own commitment and dedication, in the years that followed King's death, to the causes of international civil rights, the anti-apartheid movement, and the establishment of the King Center in Atlanta and the national King Holiday. Coretta's devotion to activism, motherhood, and the movement led by her husband, and her courageous assumption of the legacy left in the wake of King's untimely assassination, are wonderfully detailed in this intimate biography.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reverse Migration

My Siblings and parents all now reside in the South. Mainly in Texas. My eldest Sister and her husband moved from Detroit, Michigan to San Antonio, Texas in October of 2011.  Everyone I speak to about retirement are making plans to migrate South.

My sister and her husband are featured in the article by Denene Millner  In EBONYs November 2011 issue, on the “Great Reverse Migration” – why many African Americans are moving back to the south in record numbers.

My husband and I just moved from the state of Michigan to the state of Alabama on July 8, 2012. I retired from my job of 25 years with a major airline to farm grapes on 99 acres of land that's been in the family for 100 yrs. I moved over 1,300 books to storage until our renovated farmhouse is completed. I pray that my treasures (books) are safe from bugs, humidity and moisture.

Amongst these books is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. A powerful book that is rich with history, facts and personal memoirs.

The "reverse migration" of African Americans from the North to the South, a trend that was starkly reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census data. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, between 2000 and 2009, most of the big metro areas with the largest growth in the African-American population were in the South. "Economic progress, cultural ties and an emerging black middle class have driven greater numbers of blacks to prosperous Southern metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh," according to analysis by William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, with losses in states such as Illinois and Michigan.

Of course, African Americans aren't the only ones heading south. But this trend is a definite shift in the pattern for most of the 20th century, when, from World War I to the 1970s, African Americans left the South for the North, Midwest and West in search of economic opportunity and a relief from racial violence and discrimination. The period is detailed in Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.

A century ago, 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the American South – and had for a long, hard time. With the civil rights era and the postwar industrial boom, American blacks went north in huge numbers.

They called it the Great Migration. Chicago, Detroit and more exploded with African-American populations and culture. Now, it’s the great reversal.

New census numbers show African-Americans headed South again. The highest percentage now live in the South since 1960. It’s a big, remarkable shift. This hour On Point: African-Americans, headed south, again.
- Tom Ashbrook