Old Man's Two Literary Projects
Organized by: Don Young
I AM AN OLD, GAY BLACK MAN. I grew up in the American South in the 1940s and '50s, so I've seen a LOT of changes in this country within my lifetime. I've been encouraged to put some of my experiences down in writing, and that's exactly what I've been trying to do lately. I can't decide which project is more important so I've been working on both --- but need some help. My first project is a work of nonfiction which I'm tentatively calling "A History of My America." MY American history began on the night of Thursday, November 6 1941, when I was born. Everything before then was prologue; I highlight the three ethnic strains underlying my America, and show how I believe they labored to establish a country based upon The Idea of America --- which I also explain. I grew up, very happily, in the home of my extremely hardworking great-aunt and -uncle in what I now realize was one of the first (or, maybe, THE first) planned suburbs by and for blacks. I tell the story of that developer, as well as that of the woman whom I still consider to be the REAL "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement," a woman, recently deceased, who led young black students in lunch counter sit-ins TWO YEARS BEFORE the Greensboro Woolworths sit-ins that have been (rightfully) memorialized by the august Smithsonian. This was in my hometown, a rather large southern city where even the blacks were so conservative that Dr. MLK, Jr., was turned down for the pastorate of a large Baptist church because he was too young and, apparently, too radical. I tell that story, too. The main thing about my book, to me, is that I treat African American history as simply part of AMERICAN history. My other project is a play which I'm calling "The Gospel According to Aunt Minerva." The main character explains early on why her name is pronounced, a la southern rural blacks, "Minnie-Vee"; " 'Minerva'," she explains, "sounds like some fusty old white woman whose toilets we used to clean, until we started gettin' grand, puttin' our hands on our hips, and started tellin' Miss Minerva what we would and what we wouldn't do, so she said, 'Later for y'all,' and hired Maria and Lupe, and left us standing around with our hands on our hips and our mouths poked out." Anyway, Minerva (remember, "Minnie-Vee") is brash, politically incorrect, smd sort of a darker version of Maxine (although she'd wonder why Maxine wouldn't be described as a lighter version of Minnie-Vee!) Those are my two projects. And, by the way, when made my " Mother" comment above, I meant no disrespect to Sister Rosa!