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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Keith Thomas Walker’s Election Day: Falling in Love with History


Note: Election Day by Keith Thomas Walker is the eighth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page, http://bit.ly/2z9sMrd.

Greetings!

My name is Keith Thomas Walker. I’m the author of more than a couple dozen novels. I mostly write romance, but I’ve written suspense, Christian fiction, young adult and poetry, too.

Election Day is my first historical romance, and I had a lot of fun with it. For me, this is a little surprising because I hated history when I was in school. Most of my history classes seemed to require rote memorization to pass; all of those dates and names and places. I find that style of learning very unappealing. But as an adult, I’ve fallen in love with history. I can study wars and the Civil Rights Movement for hours and never get bored. I think this is because I no longer have to memorize everything I read!

Here’s my blurb for Election Day: Despite legal efforts to integrate schools, black students continue to struggle with separate and unequal environments in 1970. Leo Davis, an ambitious mayoral candidate, seeks to close a dark chapter in Overbrook Meadows’ history, but the opposition is fierce. Falling for his campaign manager was never part of the plan. Leo and Carla must fight for their love, their safety, and the future of their beloved city.

While writing this book, I did a good amount of research on the trials and tribulations this country faced with school integration. A lot of what I read was disheartening; to know how hard segregationists fought to avoid doing what’s right. They protested the black students when they tried to attend school. They harassed and even murdered our leaders. Governor George Wallace of Alabama gave his infamous inaugural speech, saying, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

With opposition from as far up as the governor’s office, you can see why it took more than 20 years to get some of the southern cities to comply with court orders. The Supreme Court decided segregated schools were illegal in 1954, and they were still ruling on segregation lawsuits as late as 1974. The federal government is the only reason some southern cities and states finally integrated their schools. Governors like Wallace could complain all they wanted, but when the president is against you and he sends troops from the National Guard to protect students, good will eventually triumph over evil.

But not all of the Supreme Court’s rulings were helpful. I find it troubling that in the 1970s the court began to reverse a lot of the positive changes they brought to the schools and universities. In 1978, the court ruled affirmative action was unconstitutional. In 1991, the court ruled it was not its plan to maintain integration “in perpetuity,” which made it easier for schools to abandon their desegregation efforts. In 2002, a report from Harvard’s Civil Rights Project concluded that America’s schools were resegregating. In 2003, the study found that schools were more segregated in 2000 than in 1970 when busing for desegregation began.

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4 comments:

Maggie Lynch said...

I absolutely love the cover of this book. It really draws you in.!

I agree that our history seems to be moving backwards and today it is looking even worse for integration. It really goes to show how politics and leadership can make a difference at every level of our government. I truly hope that those who don't want to have history repeat itself will work hard to elect people locally, at the state level and nationally to make sure that doesn't happen.

Now I'm off to buy this book because the cover is AMAZING and the topic is very apropro to today.

Sarah Raplee said...

We can't take progress for granted. I love that this book is about working at the local level to support all our citizens and promote justice! We can't go wrong with that approach, and it's something every one of us can do.

Judith Ashley said...

This project has been sharing about books written during my lifetime. Not that I have many memories of the '40's but I certainly do of the 1970's. I echo Sarah's words that we cannot take progress for granted nor can we hope someone else steps up to challenge the reversal of rights that in the case of Civil Rights, many people died for. Thank you for pointing out the importance of acting local and that love can come when least expected.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Yes, we still have a long ways to go to keep our promises to the American people. But authors like you serve a purpose to remind us of where we've been and where we want to end up. Thanks!