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  • Writer's pictureCheryl A. Head

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I love the cooking, the gathering of family and friends, the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. I'll even watch a bit of football. Thanksgiving is the beginning of a season that focuses on the things that should matter most. Gratitude. Family-both born and found. Friendship and goodwill. Peace on earth.

I recall the traditions and memories of my family: the gift buying, planning of events, the sharing of food, the excitement of purchasing a Christmas tree, Holiday music. Lots of music. Even today, the songs of the season transport me back to my childhood in Detroit. One new tradition I'm adopting is to pay homage to those we have lost.

During the Holidays is when I would most often hear my grandmother and mother speak of my grandfather. He was 28-years-old when he died, in 1929, at the hands of one or more Birmingham, Alabama police officers. The news report about his death says he was resisting arrest. Think about what resisting arrest might entail for a young, Black man with a light-skinned, pregnant wife, and two-year-old daughter living in one of the south's most racist Jim Crow cities. Simply daring to talk back to a member of the Klan-infiltrated police department of 1929 Birmingham could get a Black person beaten, or killed.

My grandfather on his wedding day in 1925

I thought dozens of times about writing the story of my grandfather's death. But in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, I found the purpose to write about Robert Harrington's life, and death, in a novel published this year called Time's Undoing.

Long before the civil rights movement brought wide attention to the inequality toward Black people living in America's segregated South, Black men, women and children managed to build lives of love, productivity and joy in one of the most oppressive eras in our country's history.

Time's Undoing is a novel about an average black man who had pride in his work, cared for his family, and met his demise just because of the color of his skin. I know my grandfather's journey is emblematic of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other accounts of racial intolerance and violence against U.S. Black citizens in the twentieth century.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share this fictionalized story with readers. For those of you who have bought, enjoyed, reviewed and contacted me about Time's Undoing, let me take this week of Thanksgiving to offer my gratitude for your support and caring.

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