Memoir Review 

From Southern Wrongs to Civil Rights:
The Memoir of a White Civil Rights Activist
by Sara Mitchell Parsons with David J. Garrow
University of Alabama Press, 2000
ISBN:  0-8173-1026-6

As surely as the stories that your grandparents and neighbors repeat time and time again are in their banality the most real accounts of the time, Sara Parsons account of her life in Atlanta during the civil rights era adds a refreshing perspective on a familiar tale...

At some point, I found myself lost in her name dropping. At times, her rambling recollections seemed like empty anecdotes. Her voice is the voice of the everywoman. The everywoman’s journey of self. Set during a truly frustrating and extraordinary time in America’s history, Parson’s story traces the lines of integration and foot-dragging bigotry. She does not paint herself as the all-knowing, all-doing white woman, but as a person merely stumbling through the maze of life.

Many might say that Parson was not an activist never marching or sitting in, but in her way she chiseled a hole and then a fingerhold in her lily white, isolate world of PTA’s, Sunday school, and lady’s bridge games. Her newly awakened consciousness looked around and found her longing for more than to be Mrs Ray Parsons. Known as more than the wife of, Instead of living her cozy life among her pleasant friends, she rose and chose to work equality in education. She looked at Atlanta and questioned the silent acceptance of the Church. She vocalized opinions that few Atlantans- white or black would.

Where at time, one can see how she might not have sparked adoration from some in the movement, such as Stokely Carmichael, one can wonder how a woman might gradually wake from the dream of racial isolation and see for the first time the wrongs that had been preached to her as right, how that woman might shake off the cocoon of her comfortable life and work tirelessly and vocally for all of Atlanta’s child to have access to the best education- good books, good schools, good teachers.

Tia Blassingame
Southern Scribe Reviews

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