The “riveting”* true story of the fiery summer of 1970, which would forever transform the town of Oxford, North Carolina—a classic portrait of the fight for civil rights in the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird
On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life.
Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Klan raged in the shadows and black Vietnam veterans torched the town’s tobacco warehouses. Tyson’s father, the pastor of Oxford’s all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.
Tim Tyson’s gripping narrative brings gritty blues truth and soaring gospel vision to a shocking episode of our history.
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
“If you want to read only one book to understand the uniquely American struggle for racial equality and the swirls of emotion around it, this is it.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Blood Done Sign My Name is a most important book and one of the most powerful meditations on race in America that I have ever read.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Pulses with vital paradox . . . It’s a detached dissertation, a damning dark-night-of-the-white-soul, and a ripping yarn, all united by Tyson’s powerful voice, a brainy, booming Bubba profundo.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Engaging and frequently stunning.”—San Diego Union-Tribune
In this outstanding personal history, Tyson, a professor of African-American studies who's white, unflinchingly examines the civil rights struggle in the South. The book focuses on the murder of a young black man, Henry Marrow, in 1970, a tragedy that dramatically widened the racial gap in the author's hometown of Oxford, N.C. Tyson portrays the killing and its aftermath from multiple perspectives, including that of his contemporary, 10-year-old self; his progressive Methodist pastor father, who strove to lead his parishioners to overcome their prejudices; members of the disempowered black community; one of the killers; and his older self, who comes to Oxford with a historian's eye. He also artfully interweaves the history of race relations in the South, carefully and convincingly rejecting less complex and self-serving versions ("violence and nonviolence were both more ethically complicated and more tightly intertwined than they appeared in most media accounts and history books"). A gifted writer, he celebrates a number of inspirational unsung heroes, ranging from his father to a respected elderly schoolteacher who spoke out at a crucial point to quash a white congregation's rebellion over an invitation to a black minister. 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. , won the James Rawley Prize and was co-winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Hard truths revealed by a great story teller and writer
This is a gripping revelation of feared truth masterfully told with immense empathy. Besides the eye opening social lessons one can learn from this chronicle of the Empowerment Movement in Oxford, Timothy Tyson beautifully renders the feeling of life lived in black and white eastern North Carolina in 1970--a most unique place in America.