I recently wrote about receiving my grandmother's manuscripts. I just finished reading one of her novels entitled The Humble Ones. It turns out that the reading of this book couldn't have been more timely. The setting is a small Pennsylvania town, probably in the early 1940's. A major part of the plot concerns a young girl who befriends the town's only black family. She desperately wants them to join her church and is met with racial prejudice and bigotry that shocks and upsets her. My grandmother did a wonderful job of portraying a variety of townspeople and their reactions to meeting black people for the first time in their lives. The story continues to contrast the innocence of an unknowing child to the realities of our society before the civil rights movement. As the girl grows into a young woman she continues to befriend this family and advocate for their rights. Some of what my grandmother wrote would be considered politically incorrect now, but her true desire for social justice shines through the entire book.
Here is a brief excerpt that I found particularly interesting:
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if in some time in the future we hear of a great negro leader, or statesman, or even a president, you and I could say we predicted it. Both girls laughed and Laurie added, "And we would be proud too, and remember that we had been his friend."
My grandmother has not been around to witness all the changes in America in the past two decades - but this week I think she would be amazed - I'm sure she would be proud.