Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Out of the Ashes

 By Deardra Shuler

Out of the ashes of hopelessness rises the phoenix of hope, determination and love. Through his fictionalized book “Out of Ashes,” the author Sutton L. Avery returns the reader to 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, wherein African Americans, then called Negroes and more often Nigger, by the white population, struggles to find dignity in their lives, albeit under the constant humiliation, hatred and harassment of the white population.

The story centers around a young educated black woman named Peg James who moves from Ohio to Birmingham to work for family relations. Unaware of the brutality of segregation, Peg soon learns the cruelty of the Black plight in the south. The book holds up a mirror reflecting the behavior of both the black and white community, when right across the street lives a former KKK member Seth Stevens, whose father Ken is a District Attorney while also being the acting Imperial Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan.

We see via the book the systematic terrorism the black community has to endure; their women raped, their men humiliated and their families murdered by the very law hiding behind those white Klan sheets. With no legal authority to turn to, the Black Community after suffering slavery now find themselves in the clutches of Jim Crow. With whole families disappearing and weekly murders done for the entertainment of the white population, the Civil Rights Movement becomes the only hope for a community paralyzed by fear.

Although fiction, “Out of Ashes” focuses on the reality of what the African American community suffered under the rigors of a white Birmingham population during the Civil Rights era in order to get equal rights. It’s a book every black and white child should read so they never forget what others went through so they can enjoy their freedom today. There is still work to be done to banish the ignorance, fear and hatred causing one race to senselessly murder, falsely imprison and suppress another due to the color of their skin. It was only through self examination that some white characters in the book realized their abuse was wrong and could only end with them. They sought to break the cycle of hatred that had been passed down through white families for generations.

 “Out of Ashes” offers change. It demonstrates that from the very ashes of destructive behavior, love can give birth to a new and better future built by all concerned.

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