As we celebrate Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he stood for, my mind reverberates with his “I Have a Dream” speech. Such a way with words, that guy. One could only dream of having his level of eloquence. The pen is mightier than the sword, and the power to move people with words is indeed a gift.
I am so thankful to be raising my children in a world that is becoming increasingly open minded and less prejudicial. It took brave people like Martin Luther King, Jr. to make this happen. Another brave soul was John Howard Griffin, the author of “Black Like Me.” If you haven’t read it, do. It’s a mind-opening, mind-blowing, mind-changing book.
In an effort to experience life as a black man in the pre-civil rights era, Mr. Griffin, a white man, took medication to darken his skin and also applied dye so that he could pass as a black person. He then traveled throughout the southern United States in a quest for knowledge and understanding. His book “Black Like Me” chronicles his experiences and provides intimate details about what he learned about race relations and the devastating impact racism has on all of us.
After the book was published, Mr. Griffin was hung in effigy in Mansfield, Texas, where he lived at the time of writing the book. I live in Mansfield, Texas today. Fortunately, it’s a much different place now.
Next month, an American Library Association Literary Landmark will be placed by the Friends of the Mansfield Public Library at the city library in honor of John Howard Griffin. As a member of the Friends, I am proud that we have been able to honor such a distinguished, courageous writer.
Just as our lives are enriched when we fill them with a diverse set of people, when I write I love to develop a diverse cast of characters. The heroine of my "Death and Taxes" series is a white country girl who received her first BB gun from her daddy for her third birthday. Now an IRS special agent in Dallas, she's partnered with a conservative black soccer dad. Despite their differences, the two make a kick-ass team. She also teams up with a Latina rookie DEA agent to pursue a mullet-wearing, tax-cheating drug dealer. For a little more fun, I tossed in a chain-smoking boss who dresses like a sixties go-go dancer. Yep, stories are a lot more interesting with a varied cast. So are our lives.
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