Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
The book I am working on now will consist of three novellas. Each story takes place on Terra Ceia in one of three identical houses and in three different decades. The setting and some of the events of the time will be true, but the characters are all fiction. This is the first time I have written a book that does not follow an already existing time line. It has been fun to watch the stories and characters evolve. As I often say, the characters write the story, I just put it on paper. When I get to know the character (even those a product of my imagination), and I wonder what would the character do in this instance, then, the story evolves from there. In the first novella, my main character is a young college educated woman named Lily. Raised in Washington, D.C., her eyes are opened to injustice in the field of education particularly in the difference between schools for black and white children. Lily wants to start a school for black girls, but before she graduates, her parents move to Florida. When Lily learns Florida’s laws prohibit her from teaching “colored” children, she must find another way to make the impact she desires. Along the way, her life and that of her family is threatened As part of my research into Florida in the 1920s, I have been shocked by some of the laws governing the lives of blacks as well as some of the cultural mores designed to keep blacks “in their place” and promote the invisible but still existent chains of slavery. I’ve learned that Confederate monuments erected in the 1910s and 20s had a deeper significance than simply honoring the dead, and I’ve also learned about the rise of the KKK and its grip on the community that I call home. The first KKK recruiter came to Manatee County in 1922, and though his message was clear, prejudice against blacks, Jews, Catholics and labor unions as well as keeping women “protected” and at home, prominent men in the community joined and donned hoods and white robes. Even as late as the 1950s, photographs of Klan members were featured on the front page of local newspapers. Only nine days before I was born in 1958, Klan members conducted a “parade” through the black neighborhoods of Palmetto and a few months later, 1,000 people attended a cross burning in Ellenton. All in my lifetime! As I put myself in Lily’s shoes and those of the other characters in my book, these stories become more than facts. I begin to feel the fear and drive to submission that not only my imagined characters but the real people experiencing them must have felt. This journal is not intended to be a political place, but my research leads me to superimpose the lessons I learn about history onto current events. It is my prayer, that my stories and the truth I uncover will lead you to do the same.