Striking a Balance
Posted by Literary Titan
The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard is the account of Clyde Kennard’s life and his significant but silent contribution to desegregate the South. What was your inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I’ve always had a fascination for the 1960’s and, reading and researching key events in that decade, one name kept cropping up, but generally only within a couple of paragraphs or a few pages at best, and that name was Clyde Kennard. I decided to hone in and further research this man to see what I could find out.
So to begin with it was really that lack of information about Mr Kennard that drew me in and I became intrigued as why that should be when many others of the civil rights movement of that time have received more attention.
The more I researched and discovered about Clyde Kennard, the more determined and passionate I became about the telling of his journey and how his efforts inspired others many decades later.
I understand that you spent more than ten years researching this book. What is something that surprised you while researching Clyde Kennard?
Yes, that’s right, and in that period my initial six pages of notes on grew into the book that exists today.
There were a few surprising things. One would have to be the lengths to which state actors would go to in those times in an attempt to stall or circumnavigate SCOTUS decisions. Another that a state would create an agency whose sole purpose was to protect it from “federal encroachment” and in essence spy on its citizens, in particular those who sought benefit from SCOTUS decisions among other things.
While these were a surprising, nothing, and you touched on this in your book review, nothing comes close to the disbelief I experienced learning about the Emmett Till case. I do still find that quite difficult to comprehend on various levels. The violence, the acquittal, the accused selling their story to Look magazine it in some graphic detail but, due to prevailing laws there could be no retrial.
This book raises Clyde Kennard up along with other civil rights leaders of the time. Was this your intention while writing this book?
To a some extent Clyde’s story told itself, the trick for me was to present it in the context of the times he lived in which I felt was critical to give his story meaning.
That period was, in my view, a time of extremes, I’m sure we’ve all seen the flashpoint photographs, Little Rock Central High, the firebomed Freedom Ride bus, Ole Miss at the time of James Meredith’s entry, the March On Washington and of course Selma.
To better understand the social and political climate of those times I completed a lot of research form both sides of the segregation debate. I wanted to try to understand not only what the issues were and why they had become so and also latterly, how those scenarios had come to be in the first place. Hence the Prologue in my book which attempts, in a few pages, to summarise how the respective positions had begun to develop over time.
The challenge with that of course was striking a balance, between Clyde’s own story and the context of those times, I think I got that right, but readers will be the real judges.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have enough research material I didn’t use to do another book on the same or related topics, however 10 years is a long time and I’ve been enjoying a little bit of a break to be honest. That said, I’m beginning to get the itch to do something. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m really enjoying that. I have also been considering a larger project on the Highland Clearances which would be a little closer to home for me. I am also gathering my poetry so may do a collection of those works. Availability wise, I will be sure to let you know.
In 1955, Clyde Kennard, a decorated army veteran, was forced to cut short the final year of his studies at the University of Chicago and return home to Mississippi due to family circumstances, where Kennard made the decision to complete his education. Yet still on the eve of the civil rights movement in America, Kennard’s decision would be one of the first serious attempts to integrate any public school at the college level in the state. The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard tells the true story of Kennard’s efforts to complete his further education at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) against the backdrop of the institutionalized social order of the times and the prevailing winds of change attempting to blow that social order away. As Meredith’s admission to “Ole Miss” became more widely known at the time, Kennard became the forgotten man. Author Derek R. King shares his extensive research into Kennard’s life, and touches on key events that shaped those times.
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on September 22, 2019, in Interviews and tagged author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, civil rights, Derek R. King, ebook, goodreads, history, kindle, kobo, literature, nonfiction, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.