How I become interested in African heritage
I believe I had turned ten after the teacher had read Tom Sawyer to the class. Looking for summer reading, I went to the county library wanting to read more books by Mark Twain. When the librarian showed me Huckleberry Finn, I blinked and choked a bit at how huge it was and asked if he wrote any thinner books. She looked at me with a questioning eyebrow and hesitatingly pulled out Puddinhead Wilson.
I checked it out, thrilled to have my first big person book. The story is set in Missouri before the 1850’s. The title character, David Wilson, nicknamed Puddinhead, is an eccentric, openminded lawyer, searcher for knowledge, and observer of conditions in society and the social, physical, emotional, and intellectual effect of slavery on both black and white people. The impact on me was profound and ignited my desire to know more about the people who were held captive in those times. How? Why? And the residual consequences?
About Phyllis J. Brown
As an author, educator and speaker, Phyllis Jane Brown loves to journey to places she includes in her books. In pursuit of historical authenticity in preparation for The Gold Banded Box, and in a quest for her own genealogy on three continents, Phyllis visited 39 countries, including 14 in Africa. Coupled with her love of travel and heritage, she spent 40 years researching histories, slave narratives, cultural traditions, triumphs and African contributions to the world. She also used these studies for her Master’s Degree thesis entitled, Narratives of Enslaved People: Lifting the Veil, Resisting the Peculiar Institution. From her research, she garnered factual information and Negro spirituals which inspired scenes in The Gold Banded Box series. So, although the characters never lived, occurrences, tragedies and secrets similar to theirs were repeated too many times throughout the trek from Africa, surviving “railroad of bones” along the Middle Passage, encountering perils of enslavement, daring attempts to escape on the Underground Railroad in the Americas, and coping in the current time.
Gifting us wisdom, their experiences reverberate while we learn to understand each other, keep watch in this current precarious age and struggle to achieve the ultimate cessation of the residuals of slavery.
May these five books assist multi-cultural pilgrams of today as we journey beyond “if onlys” with determined dignity and hope onward together to a future truly free.
Phyllis is a wife, mother and an educational consultant, who accomplished over 31 successful years as an elementary and high school English teacher. She was honored to be a finalist for the Fresno Public Education Fund Teacher of Excellence. The Gold Banded Box received the Outstanding Fiction award at the Southern California Writers Conference.