Author shares local story at lecture
Dr. Timothy B. Tyson (far left), the featured speakerrn at a special CCCC ... (more)
SANFORD — Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, author of “Bloodrn Done Sign My Name,” stressed the importance ofrn remembering the past at a special Central Carolina Communityrn College (CCCC) lecture event Wednesday, September 21,rn at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.
rn In “Blood Done Sign My Name,” Tyson recountsrn the story of a racially-driven murder and the followingrn insurrection he witnessed as a teenager in Oxford, N.C.
rn Tyson said people frequently ask him why he dredged uprn this ugly story from the past.
rn “rn We do have to go forward,” Tyson said, but he emphasizedrn the importance of turning to the past for guidance. “Whorn we are is very much a function of who we have been. Ifrn you’re going to heal, you have to have an honestrn conversation with your own past.”
rn While Tyson opened the lecture discussing some accountsrn of racial stand-offs and violence that received nationalrn attention, he went on to present the audience with arn piece of Sanford’s local history.
rn “rn We look at the civil rights movement as if it were arn series of battles like the Civil War,” he said, “butrn it happened everywhere. It happened in Sanford.”
rn Tyson lived in Sanford as a youth and his father, thern Rev. Vernon Tyson, pastored a number of area local churches.
rn The elder Tyson was the pastor at Jonesboro United Methodistrn Church in 1963. The pastor invited Dr. Samuel Proctor,rn a renowned black preacher who was president at Northrn Carolina A&T State University at the time, to preachrn at the church on Race Relations Sunday.
rn Tyson said in between the invite and the special sermon,rn Sanford had its “own little Birmingham” whenrn more than 50 black teenagers were arrested and chargedrn with trespassing after participating in demonstrations.
rn He said after that incident (and because of Proctor’srn upcoming visit) his father began to receive complaintsrn from church members and threats from opposition in thern community.
rn Tyson recalled that one of the church’s members — arn first grade teacher named Ms. Amy Womble — mayrn have saved the church and his father when she spoke uprn in support of the guest preacher at an emergency meetingrn of the church’s administrative board.
rn According to Tyson, she shared the story of a black airmanrn who saved the life of a young white boy in Orange Countyrn and it moved the board to vote 25-14 in favor of Proctor’srn visit.
rn Tyson said the church was packed for Proctor’srn sermon and the visiting preacher won the congregationrn over with a powerful sermon, not about race, but regardingrn the Biblical account of Jacob wrestling with an angel.
rn “rn That was our civil rights story,” Tyson said. “Thern one we grew up hearing. We felt good about it.”
rn However, he emphasized that people need to remember thern whole Civil Rights history. “America needs to comern to grips with its own past,” he said. “Historyrn is not always a happy story.” Tyson said for everyrn story with a happy ending, there is another with “buildingsrn burning and bullets flying.”
rn Tyson also said public education is important to society.rn He encouraged those in attendance to back CCCC. “Supportrn your community college, because it’s really important,” hern said. “A place like this helps people grow andrn blossom and find their worth.”
rn Mary D. Williams, who often performs before Tyson givesrn such lectures, opened the evening with a moving medleyrn of songs mentioned in “Blood Done Sign My Name.”
rn “rn They set the tone for what we’re going to talkrn about tonight,” the gospel singer told the audience.
rn Tyson is professor of Afro-American Studies at the Universityrn of Wisconsin-Madison, visiting professor of Americanrn Christianity and Southern Culture at the Duke Divinityrn School and senior scholar at the Center for Documentaryrn Studies at Duke University. From 2004 through 2005, hern served as the John Hope Franklin senior fellow at thern National Humanities Center.
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