We have a class at our church called Talk It Out that attempts to provide a place for education and discussion of racial issues over the span of four weekly sessions.
For me, the class has really served as a jumping off place for other learning. I believe all good classes do this actually, and so what began as an admonishment in some of the class material to understand our nation’s racial history, specifically with regards to African-Americans has prompted a lot of book exchanging lately among dear friends.
I borrowed this one recently and found that I could not put it down. Dear Senator is by Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who tells the story of discovering as a teenager who her real parents are after years of being raised by relatives who she assumed were her parents. For me, Ms. William’s story is also a history lesson of the sad, slow journey the south made from slavery to the Civil Rights era. The author does a beautiful job of weaving the historical events within her personal experience.
The most moving detail in the book is the distinct lack of bitterness in her voice. In fact, out of respect for her father, Ms. William’s waited until after he had died to write her story. She kept a huge part of her life a secret for so long that a lot of persistent urging was required on the part of her children to come forward as the daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond.
I am so glad that she was brave enough to find the voice to write this story down. There is so much I would never have known if she had not chosen to finally tell. Much about her journey. And much about America.