Immerse yourself in this highly anticipated political docu-drama set in the Deep South amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the Land of Cotton by Martha A. Taylor
Intimate Conversation: http://edcmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/04/intimate-conversation-with-author.html
Important Excerpt from Chapter 1
The time is 1956. The main character, Martha, is speaking as a young child about her environment and daily life. She is a young girl living a relatively sheltered life with her grandparents in Memphis, Tennessee.
"In East Memphis , there were no colored folks. I didn’t go to school with any; I didn’t go to church with any. If I did see one it was only because they were working for a white person; pretty much like my grandmother had said. They were confined by unnatural zoning to their own sections of town. If a new subdivision went in it was most likely advertised as ‘No homes sold to coloreds.’
Every morning when I rode my bike from my grandparent’s house to school, I would pass the uniformed maids who had exited the city buses on Walnut Grove or White Station. They were walking to their various places in our neighborhood; to their places of employment. It was like they all knew each other. They would be laughing and talking when they got off the bus but, the minute I approached them, their heads would bow and their eyes would be clearly focused on the ground beneath their feet.
My grandmother’s highest compliment of a Negro was to say ‘they were clean.’ She had employed maids from time to time. It was a beloved maid in Michigan , when she and Papaw began enjoying life on a different rung of the ladder that had taught her some of the social graces she would need to survive in an elitist world.
Neither of my grandparents were bigots. I never heard either of them say anything demeaning about the Negroes. It was just the way of the South. It had begun long before the Civil War and had continued for ninety plus years past. If you moved from the North to the South it didn’t take you long to learn the ways of the South. The Negroes had their own schools, they had their own churches and they had their own commercial businesses. They had a place. They knew their place; and that was that. They were taught as small children to respect a white person and fear their power over them. There was no need to feel sorry for them after all, they weren’t slaves anymore." -- from In the Land of Cotton
"To be part of history is a wonderful experience but, to stand perfectly still holding your breath those precious few seconds when you know history is imminent but before it is written; before it actually becomes history, that is overwhelming." ~ Silas Boyd
In The Land of Cotton is a poignant and emotional chronicle of a young, unpretentious white girl coming to age in the color divided world of the fifties and sixties. Martha's story places the reader smack in the middle of the civil rights war; a beautiful and heart wrenching journey through history that weaves a tale of forbidden friendships, misconceptions and human nature, at both its best and worst.
Martha's passionate desire to break through the prejudice and learn for herself the truth, submerses the readers into the tumultuous, discriminatory world of soul mates kept apart by skin color and social stigma.
In The Land of Cotton is a prodigious must read for any generation. For those who experienced the world divided by flesh tone, Martha's take will bring them back to an all too familiar, and perhaps even uncomfortable, territory. For others, it will be a heart and eye opening rendition of history, and the long, hard fought battle of equal opportunity and universal acceptance, not just between colors, but people.
Martha's weaving of history and personal experience give readers a start to finish, can't put down narrative, offering a singular panorama of an ever changing, ever adapting world and the people caught in the maelstrom of it all. It is a seamlessly written tale of love, moral dilemma, honor, political uprising, conviction and self evolvement.
In light of this year's Presidential Election, In The Land of Cotton can't help but assume the form of a beacon of hope for any individual who has ever felt different and longed for more.
Well written, beautifully depicted and stirring, In The Land of Cotton is sure to present old and new reader alike with a unique perspective in to a part of history that shaped and molded past generations and formed the future as well as to serve as a reminder that true love is, and always has been, colorblind. -- 5/5 stars. Reviewed by Claudia Robinson, Amazon review
"In the Land of Cotton" is Martha Taylor's very personal look at one of the most volatile and exciting periods in American history, a time during which the Civil Rights Movement changed race relations in this country forever. It was a decade during which America put a man on the moon, fought one of the most unpopular wars in its history, and finally recognized that all men are, indeed, created equal. Like Martha, I came of age in the South during the 1960s. Unlike her, with the exception of how America's Viet Nam adventure impacted all young men of the time, I was largely an outside observer to what was happening around the country.
When Martha's story begins in 1956, she is a young girl living a relatively sheltered life with her grandparents in Memphis, Tennessee. One year later Martha's parents buy a home in a new Memphis subdivision and she moves back home to live with her parents and little sister, a move that will change her life forever. Martha's parents are happy enough to leave her to herself as long as she is home before dark every evening and she is quick to take advantage of that lack of attention.
Exploring the area on her bicycle one day, Martha is thrilled to discover, deep in the woods near her home, the little family enclave in which Lucy Boyd, her family's black housekeeper, lives. The Boyd family is at first a little uneasy about having Martha around so much, fearing what might happen if the little white girl is noticed there among them. Martha, however, because she understands her own family's racial attitudes well enough to know she can never tell them about her visits, is able to continue them in complete secrecy.
And continue, the visits do. Martha comes to know and love the several generations of Boyds living in their primitive family compound and they, in turn, accept her as one of their own. By the time her parents move the family to Texas, the Boyds have taught Martha more about the world and life than she will ever learn from her own parents, and she has become especially attached to Silas Boyd, a young man about her age.
What happens to Martha and Silas over the next few years is as much America's story as it is their own. Deeply in love though she might be, Martha realizes that her family is never likely to accept her love for a black man. Silas, on the other hand, has the reluctant approval of his mother but knows that being seen with a white girl in the 1960s South could cost him his life. Swept up by the rapidly changing events of the times, their story is one of inspiration and tragedy.
"In the Land of Cotton" is a touching reminder of those times for those of us who lived through them. Just as importantly, it is a very readable personal history of that period for those too young to remember it for themselves, history told in a manner that makes it both vivid and real - something even the best history books seldom achieve. -- 4/5 stars. Reviewed by Sam Sattler, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewers
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Martha A. Taylor, Author, "In the Land of Cotton"