“Children of the Changing South” Turns Ten!

It’s hard to be believe that it has been ten years since the November 2011 release of Children of the Changing South. The anthology, which was published by McFarland & Co., collected firsthand stories about growing up during and after integration. It contains eighteen memoirs by writers who grew up all over the South from the 1950s through the 1990s.

The primary concern of Children of the Changing South is to show what so many other books, documentaries, and websites do not: what it was like trying to grow up alongside and within the turmoil during this period of change. Most children who grew up in the middle and late twentieth century had no role in any social change movement, and likewise most of their parents had no role either. Yet, no one in the South was unaffected, especially not children whose formative years were spent during that time of upheaval. I’ve read before that the long-prevailing white, male patriarchal culture left a “toxic residue” on the South, and this book asks, what about the young people who grew up in that? How were they – since I’m among them, we – affected?

While there may be stories to tell about the big names during this period in the South, the perspectives and stories of those who witnessed it and were affected by it should not go unnoticed or untold. In the collection, readers will find stories about escaping bomb threats against schools, living the struggles of women in times of change, navigating the early days of school integration, walking in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s footsteps long after he was gone, and experiencing the discomforts of learning about family history. Among the essays are Stephanie Powell Watts’ “Black Power,” which was included in Oxford American‘s 2009 race issue, and Jim Grimsley’s “Black Bitch,” which was expanded into his 2015 memoir How I Shed My Skin

The anthology retails for $19.99 and should be available through retailers large and small.

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