Black History Month

Black History Month

This year marks the 63rd anniversary of the first Freedom Rides. They are the backdrop of my historical novel Night on Fire, in which Billie Simms, a white girl, and Jarmaine Jones, her African American friend, see what's happening in their hometown of Anniston, Alabama, and set out on a Freedom Ride of their own. Here is the prologue.

*          *          *

One day in the spring of 1961, my street was the center of the world.  

People read about it in newspapers and watched it on TV. They heard about it on NBC, the BBC, and Radio Moscow. The President held meetings. The FBI investigated.

What they saw were Negroes and white people together—traveling, marching, getting beaten up and burned. It started in my little town of Anniston, Alabama, and it moved to Birmingham and Selma and Washington, DC. I watched the flames catch and spread to Montgomery, where they were fanned and blessed by Martin Luther King. The people sang, the mob roared, and I glimpsed freedom.  

I thought freedom was just a word, but it’s not. My friend Jarmaine taught me that. Freedom is hands and feet, bodies and faces, wounds and scars. It’s a bell, and I rang it. It’s a bus, and I climbed on. Along the way, I thought I would get answers. Instead I found questions.

Why do people hate each other?  

If a law is bad, should you break it?

How can good people be so cruel? 

More about Night on Fire


Blog: Music