Renowned scholar, writer, performer, teacher and master storyteller
1012 natchez press release
Dr. Njoki McElroy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ON SALE FEBRUARY 2010
Contact: Marian McElroy, Esq.
NEW BOOK 1012 NATCHEZ
Dr. Njoki McElroy
A Look Back Shows How to Live with Grace and Style Amid Hardship
1012 Natchez, subtitled A Memoir of Grace, Hardship and Love, illustrates how some African Americans persevered through entrenched racial attitudes and atrocities and managed to live with grace and style. In the 1890’s, just one generation removed from slavery, the author’s maternal grandfather purchased land in Sherman, Texas. Storybook beautiful and situated on several acres of land, 1012 Natchez was where the author spent many of her childhood summers and absorbed important life lessons.
Growing up in the 1930s and ‘40s under the heat and oppression of Texas, Njoki McElroy overcame the odds to rise to the top academically, spiritually, and emotionally.
At sixteen, she left a sheltered childhood for a protected existence at Xavier University in New Orleans, the only Catholic college founded for Coloreds. Her graduation present in 1945 from her grandmother was a round trip ticket to visit her Xavier roommate in Chicago. She was to stay two weeks and return home to Dallas. But, anxious to flee the nest, and believing that better opportunities awaited her in Chicago, she decided to stay.
Through her eyes we see black Chicago during the heyday of the Great Migration:
thriving black businesses in the Black Belt; rent parties where McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters and other Mississippi transplants held sway; and jumping nightclubs like the El Grotto and the Rum Boogie featuring a young Sarah Vaughn or T-Bone Walker. Meanwhile, Chicago’s segregated racial policies and restrictive covenants held the majority of blacks in a tight vise of crowded ghetto conditions.
Her parents warned, “Deep roots make strong trees and Negroes did things in the North that they would never think of doing in the South.”
So much protection left her unprepared for the discrimination and vice up north.
A series of events including a quick wedding, childbirth, deplorable living conditions and a devastating fire left her unhinged. With her three young sons in tow and leaving her husband behind in Chicago, she sought refuge with her parents and grandparents in the South.
Back at 1012 Natchez in 1951 memories and stories resurface. Historical events are recounted that are rarely written about. The porch gatherers celebrated Joe Louis’ victory over Primo Carnera. A horrific race riot and lynching in 1930 decimated the prosperous black community in Sherman. A double date with Jackie Robinson and another Negro League player provides a rare glimpse of Jackie Robinson pre Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Old-fashioned recipes and photos portraying rare black images reflect pride and love over fear and deprivation.
Ultimately the author embraced her challenges with grace, finding love, enjoying family, and earning a post-graduate degree. Given the current hard times, this memoir is a timely reflection of perseverance, family devotion, and cultural and historical ties.
1012 Natchez will make you pause to appreciate your own family roots and cherish your own personal freedoms and opportunities.
An easily downloaded quality file of the book cover is available at www.NjokiMcElroy.com along with author, photos, biography and other information.
1012 Natchez: A Memoir of Grace, Hardship and Love
by Dr. Njoki McElroy
Brown Book Publishing Group