Ross Howell Jr. and Kristen Green: Virginia authors writing about racial injustice and civil rights!

  • Chop Suey Books 2913 West Cary Street Richmond, VA, 23221 United States

Ross Howell Jr. will read from his recent fiction release, Forsaken, while Kristen Green celebrates the paperback edition of her family memoir and NYT bestseller, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County. Books will be for sale and authors will be available for signing after the reading. This event is free and open to the public.

Forsaken:

In April 1912 in Hampton, Virginia, white eighteen-year-old reporter Charles Mears covers his first murder case, a trial that roiled racial tensions. An uneducated African American girl, Virginia Christian, was tried for killing her white employer. Virgie died in the electric chair one day after her seventeenth birthday, the only female juvenile executed in Virginia history.

Charlie tells the story of the trial and its aftermath. Woven into his narrative are actual court records, letters, newspaper stories, and personal accounts, reflecting the arc of history in characters large and small, in events local and global. Charlie falls in love with Harriet, a girl orphaned by the murder; meets Virgie's blind attorney George Fields, a former slave; and encounters physician Walter Plecker, a state official who pursues racial purity laws later emulated in Nazi Germany.

There is much to admire in the pages of Forsaken, especially the vivid sense of time and place, Hampton Roads after the Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel's premise is ambitious, its events striking and tragic, and fiction and nonfiction are deftly blended in this powerful read on the themes of injustice, corruption, and racial conflict set in the poisonous epoch known as Jim Crow.

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County:

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.

Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role—no less complex and painful—comes to light.