A Theory of Grace: guest post by Ethel Morgan Smith


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

I spent a couple of weeks in November as a resident at VCCA, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a truly wondrous home for the arts. I've been there many times, and each time, it's an amazing experience. While there, I worked on revisions for my novel-- still working on them-- and will tell you more about that soon. But I came home in time for Thanksgiving!

Today we welcome Ethel Morgan Smith to the blog. She will share an overview of her forthcoming book, A Theory of Grace: Voices & Visions of the Civil Rights Movement.

It sounds fascinating and relevant, and I look forward to reading it. Take it away, Ethel!

Ethel Morgan Smith

Theory of Grace tells us stories we’ve not heard before about The
Civil Rights Movement. The voices of the 10 individuals interviewed
offer more than personal stories; they afford a fresh historicalperspective. Their stories will move us, teach us, and take us on acompelling journey. This work is dynamic and will raise new questionsabout what it means to be human beings who seek justice againsttremendous resistance.                                   
One narrow and prevailing view sees the TCRM in terms of Martin Luther King, Jr. and/or Rosa Parks, marching and making speeches. Many others consider that it ended with the Obama presidency. The TCRM is so much bigger and deeper than that.It grew from intellectual and historical efforts; and it continues toadvance. The Movement is and was powered by mostly people like theindividuals I write about, ordinary citizens, stepping into bigmoments by working behind the scenes, whether it was our teachers, ourparents having bake sales, or car washes to raise money for civilright workers, or volunteers who helped with voter registration in ourchurches and homes. This work expands the TCRM to the present andfuture. Some of these brave warriors worked at the elbow of icons, andothers were clearing new paths, all passing through history withoutwide recognition. The beauty of this book is the implied notion thatthere were–and still are--thousands, and thousands more, each doingtheir bit to achieve social justice for all. Theory of Graceintroduces us to some new witnesses and new voices that most peoplehaven’t heard. It takes a giant step forward toward negotiating thenarrative of a continuum of time periods, making it a work of socialchange. And like the narrative that it is, it writes a new chapter inhistory; a new culture is born.
We cannot talk about TCRM without visiting earlier movements thatbegan planting seeds of hope and freedom: slavery, Reconstruction, JimCrow, the Great Migration, WWI, and WWII. Many of my interviewees:Emma Bruce, John Canty, Andrea Lee, Ann Cole Lowe, and VirginiaBlanche Franklin Moore, can trace their ancestry back to slavery,which provides a direct chain of narrators. We will learn not onlyabout their contributions, but also about the extraordinary impact ondozens of others. The book will view contemporary events, in all oftheir catastrophic and challenging potential, through the lens of thebrave individuals who overcame equally extraordinary obstacles of thepast.
Ethel Morgan Smith is the author of two books: From Whence Cometh My Help: The African American Community at Hollins College and Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany. She has also published in The New York Times, Callaloo, African American Review, and other national and international outlets.


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Published on December 04, 2019 05:17
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