The Song and the Silence: A Story about Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright

By Yvette Johnson
Read by Robin Miles

9.71 Hours 05/02/2017 unabridged
Format: Digital Download (42Tracks)
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“Have to keep that smile,” said Booker Wright in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a whites-only restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the civil rights movement. For he did the unthinkable: before a national audience, he described what life was truly like for the black people of Greenwood, Mississippi. Shortly after these remarks aired on television, life for Booker took a turn for the worst. And so began the story that has inspired Yvette Johnson to explore her grandfather’s life—as well as her own feelings on race—in this fascinating memoir. Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race the way southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful southern town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s fascinating story and gets closer to the truth behind his murder, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, forgiveness, and faith. Told with powerful insights and harrowing details of civil rights–era Mississippi, The Song and the Silence is an amazing chronicle of one woman’s five-year journey in pursuit of the past—and hope for tomorrow.

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Summary

Summary

A Publishers Weekly Pick of Buzz Books for Spring 2017

“Have to keep that smile,” said Booker Wright in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a whites-only restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the civil rights movement. For he did the unthinkable: before a national audience, he described what life was truly like for the black people of Greenwood, Mississippi.

Shortly after these remarks aired on television, life for Booker took a turn for the worst.

And so began the story that has inspired Yvette Johnson to explore her grandfather’s life—as well as her own feelings on race—in this fascinating memoir. Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race the way southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful southern town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s fascinating story and gets closer to the truth behind his murder, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, forgiveness, and faith.

Told with powerful insights and harrowing details of civil rights–era Mississippi, The Song and the Silence is an amazing chronicle of one woman’s five-year journey in pursuit of the past—and hope for tomorrow.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“This is the best [book] I have read capturing the essence of the two most important issues of our time—the move of the black race from rural to urban, and the struggle encountered in the move from poor to middle-class.” James Meredith, author of A Mission from God
“A heartfelt, beautifully written odyssey for a heritage that was worth seeking. An often emotionally harrowing journey taken by the author.” Aviva Slesin, documentary filmmaker, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
The Song and the Silence is a riveting and insightful account of Yvette Johnson’s six-year quest to find out who her grandfather was and how he lived his life…A skilled story-teller, Johnson brings history to life with vivid details and powerful narrative techniques.” Duane Roen, Professor of English, Arizona State University
“With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story of her family and a nation distressed by racism.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A timely story of fragmentation and division and of picking one’s way through the minefield that was—and is—the racially riven South.” Kirkus Reviews

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Yvette Johnson

Yvette Johnson is a writer, film producer, and speaker. She coproduced the documentary Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 9.71
Audience: Adult
Language: English