I just finished reading a wonderful new book, Troubling the Ashes, that highlights the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South. The fictional story follows the life of a white woman, Marley, and her family, living through the turbulent times of the 1960’s.
Marley’s husband Winston was offered a job as a football coach in the small town of Natasugla, Alabama. The town was still reeling from when the school was burned to the ground just two years prior. Curious about what happened to the school, the school principle, Hunter, tells the story of how the school was burned down to prevent the black children from the nearby town of Tuskegee from being allowed to attend.
Hunter told them about the first day students from Tuskegee came to Natasugla. He told them of how the mob of segregationists beat a white photographer in the streets for supporting the integration all while the county sheriff watched.
Marley and Winston eventually decided to stay and raise their own children in Natasula. The next few years are filled with attacks, false accusations, and the KKK. Marley, Winston and a growing group of “public school supporters” work together to lessen the racial tensions that erupted over the past few years always hoping that one day they would be gone forever.
Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes, does a masterful job of weaving the fiction characters and historical events. At times the book reads more like a historical autobiography than a work of fiction.
The release of this book could not be prudent as some have noted the eerie similarities between Governor George Wallace and Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump. While many political pundits on the right claim that racism and segregation ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it is simply not true.
According to a new Pew Research Study, 61% of Americans believe that changes must be made in order to achieve racial equality. It also reveals that black-white gaps in social and economic well-being persist across several measures. So how far have we come?
“Of course, we’ve seen many great changes since the turbulent 1960’s,” says Aaron. “But racism still lingers in closets, under beds, and inside the mind. Today, it just wears a different mask.”
With the current rise of the Black Lives Matter movement many Americans are learning that systemic racism still hinders blacks from getting a quality education, a good paying job, and that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement.
George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Troubling the Ashes is the prefect way to stop and look back to see how far we have come in the last fifty years only to see that there is more work to be done.