J. Everett Prewitt.
Walkers. Northland, 328 pages
Reviewed by Austin L. Sydnor, Jr.
Walkers, J. Everett Prewitt
details racial atrocities in a southern community over two
decades. The story begins during the late summer of 1948, on a
farm outside Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A twelve-year-old witnesses
the lynching of a young man called Emanuel. This youthful
witness was a visitor to the farm and his cousin told him not to
go to the cornfield because it was haunted. This experience
traumatized him for years, as he told no one. This vision,
however, inspired the boy to be a reporter and
to write about the conditions that black people were
facing in America.
Anthony James Andrew, the young visionary,
went on to college and was successful in receiving a degree in
journalism. He was the first black assistant editor of the Dairy
Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and
graduated in the top ten percent of his class. He did internship
at the New York Times.
Anthony couldn’t find a job in journalism,
so he worked with his father in his mortician business. His
father was very successful, proud, and boastful. His mother was
however rather retiring, the opposite of his father. Anthony
took after his mother. His father wanted his son to take over
the business after he retired. He discouraged a journalism
career, saying that a black person would never be a
reporter—particularly at a white newspaper. At times, he
thought his father was right after receiving so many rejections.
One day, he had a bad experience at the
morgue—he remembered Emanuel. He stayed away from work a few
days, and decided to pursue his dream. This was tough for his
father scolded him, but he never gave in. Finally, a call came
from the Arkansas Sun. The newspaper wanted to build a
market in the black community and increase revenue. Their
competition was the Republic in Little Rock. After much
debate, the paper hired him a month later.
Anthony was assigned to report about the
trouble that black people were having in Arkansas—particularly
lynching. He was assigned to write a series of articles. The
editor wanted information about a black doctor, because of his
status, who was hanged twenty years ago in Evesville. The town
was abandoned. This seemed strange.
Anthony went to a nearby town—Wynne. He
wanted to find why the other town was abandoned. He asked
questions—some people gave him direct answers, others
didn’t. There was a man in Wynne, Bobby Joe Byrd, who gave him
some answers. He wanted more information on him but could not
find any. Anthony, however, found information on two families
that lived in Evesville—the Coulters and the Williams. The
Coulters moved to Detroit and the Williams settled in Cleveland.
As he was driving to Little Rock, someone
shot at him. He thought it was Byrd. The editor of the newspaper
gave him information about a history teacher at a college in
Little Rock who wrote a book call Strange Fruit, about
the lynching of black people.
Anthony was attracted to this history
teacher, Carla Monroe, who was a widow. They were slow in
developing their relationship—because their ideologies
differed about the action that black people should take to deal
with their conditions in America. Anthony was uncommitted. He
was conservative. She was moderate. He wrote an article in the
college newspaper about how unnecessary marching was. He wrote
also that racial justice would come when black people
“elevate” themselves. Carla strongly disagreed.
Anthony felt that way because none of his
friends or him had had a racial encounter. Carla questions why
it took him so long to get a newspaper position. He knew she was
very angry and broke the conversation. He had another interest
in Pine Bluff, but when he saw Carla he knew deep down he wanted
to be with her.
Anthony went to Cleveland to find more
information on the Williams. The Williams were a very close-knit
family and respected each other. They helped each other no
matter what the issues were. There was a young man in the family
named Raymond. He had dreams of becoming a pool hustler. He was
very good. His family wanted him to go to college. They scolded
him when they found he was hustling.
He took all of the person money one evening.
The person who lost the money had to rob a store to get the
money he lost. He was later killed. His friend Roach blamed
Raymond. On the street, you don’t take all a person’s money.
Roach was out to get him. Anthony found out about the set-up. He
saved Raymond’s life. The Williams’ family thanked Anthony.
Raymond knew he was good at hustling and wanted another chance
to try again. Some young men were looking at Raymond, and wanted
to be a pool hustler as well. Raymond gave them good advice not
to be a hustler but finish school because there is nothing on
the street that will last.
Raymond gave up hustling and decided to go to
college. Anthony felt a very good feeling about them because he
was accepted and when Carla arrived in Cleveland, she was
accepted as well. When one Williams’ family came to Cleveland,
each of them made sure that they were situated well. There
seemed to be a family reunion every Sunday. Anthony did not
experience this in his family. When there was a family reunion,
his father would brag about his success and thought that if a
black person who does not go to college, he or she was not
intelligent. There were divisions in Anthony’s family, but
there was unity in the Williams.
The editor of the newspaper called Anthony to
come back to Little Rock. The police department was interesting
in the incident. Anthony was wondering why since he did not
complete his investigation why was he coming back. The editor
did not give him any further answer. Raymond still did not find
any more information on Byrd. While at home, his father and
mother were arguing about the financial situation. He had never
seen his mother so outspoken as she questioned her husband about
an affair he was having with one of the employees at the funeral
business and losing money on gambling.
The Williams’ family found that Anthony was
a reporter. They thought that he was accusing them of the
tragedy in Evesville. Carla overheard that the Williams’
family left the town because they murdered the sheriff and the
white people there. The information was that a black family
retaliated because one of their own was hanged. All the elders
had a meeting and they chose Raymond to use poison on Anthony.
Raymond was very depressed as he was walking
to Anthony’s apartment. Roach was healed and wanted another
shot at Raymond. But Anthony saved Raymond again. Raymond
disposed of the poison.
Anthony found out why the newspaper hired
him. He was not the first black reporter at the newspaper. The
first person later went to the Washington Post. Anthony
was wondering why the person left and his notes were incomplete.
He called him and found the truth. He later told the editor of
the Arkansas Sun that he could found no other information
about the tragedy in Evesville, so the editor fired him and
called him degrading names.
The editor was using Anthony because he was
working for the Ku Klux Klan. Byrd was working for the FBI and
helped Anthony in the investigation as an undercover Klan. As
Anthony was cleaning out his desk and leaving the newspaper,
some white men attacked him but Byrd came to help Anthony. The
rival newspapers, Republic and the Washington Post,
exposed the editor of the Arkansas Sun as a Klan man.
There was a big decline at the Arkansas Sun and many
people lost their jobs. Anthony had mixed feeling—he wanted to
see the newspaper exposed but didn’t want people to lose their
Anthony informed Carla what the Williams had
intended for him. Carla was suspicious. Anthony didn’t feel
that way. He felt for the first time accepted and told Carla
what he saw as a child. Carla revealed that her husband and her
were arguing and he was drinking when he had an automobile
After a beautiful Sunday with the Williams,
that evening they told what happened in Evesville. The Williams
defended themselves when white men came to attack them. After
the story was told, Anthony found who Emanuel was—he was the
member of Coulter’s family. The Coulter’s family left
because they were scared and the Williams’ family regretted
what they had done and became. They had to do it to survive. The
Klan wanted revenge and they were using Anthony.
Anthony received a call from the hospital
that Byrd was shot. His cover had been revealed. He visited him,
and both agreed that the problem in the South as well as America
was not over. Byrd was going to continue what he was assigned to
do and Anthony as well. Byrd remained in the South and Anthony
After Anthony came from the hospital, Carla
asked him did he take someone with him. He said no. Carla was
upset. Anthony said they wouldn’t understand. His friends were
removed from these situations. Carla noticed he changed. He
hugged her and said: “that’s what staring death in the
face does to you.”
Anthony had another encounter where he
witnessed the lynching. This time was he had the upper hand.
Some men where chasing him, but he eluded them. He was driving
as fast as he could, but they still pursued him. They fired
shots. He couldn’t fire back because he left his gun in the
trunk. His car was hit and could not be moved.
He ran and went back to the woods and thought
of a way so they could not find him. He knew the woods better
than them as he tricked them in shooting at each other. One of
the men dropped his gun and Anthony pick it up. For a second, he
wanted to shoot one of them—but he didn’t. This was not his
nature to do as they did to Emanuel.
Byrd called Anthony the next day. He was
surprised Byrd knew. Byrd had one of his men to help, but
Anthony didn’t needed.
Anthony and Carla settled in Cleveland. She
finally met his parents before they left Little Rock. They felt
the warmth of his parents as they said goodbye. The Williams
remained the same. He went back to the woods where he witnessed
what happen—not with fear but with optimism. He left
marks—one at thirteen and the other at twenty-six. He wasn’t
sure as a teen but sure as a man. He learned how to handle the
situation by learning from the experience. He was more in
control as a man. He know he can’t shake the devil, but he
knows he needs to be more prepared whatever the devil will
gives a good account of
what family relations means. It shows what a black family had
and must do to protect itself for its own survival. Even though
there are differences, this book shows that they must be put
aside and the past should be remembered—what they endured and
be ready for anything that may come.
A quote from the book: “Until the hunted have their
own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the
hunter.” He is right. We need books like this
posted 22 August 2005
||A Bio Statement by Austin L. Sydnor Jr.
I was born the second child, first of twin, and first
male, named after my father. I have one sister, and two
brothers. I grew up on the west-side, near downtown,
Baltimore. My father was an ordained minister and my
mother was active in the church. Later, she became a
deaconess and director the gospel chorus at the church.
My father and mother were older
parents. But that did not bother me, because I realized
that I did not have any choice and this was a blessing.
This was the strength I needed to face whatever life or
even death brought my way. I took piano lessons, but
later on that was not my fortitude. It did help me
later. I directed two choirs over at my mother’s
church—the young people and later on her chorus.
I graduated from Baltimore City
College in 1969. I had a social conscious belief in
other as I met several people from high school. I
participated in the S.O.U.L. School, Black Student
Union, and Black United Front. I later went to
Liberation House Press. I joined VISTA. This is where I
learned typesetting. During 1970, there was a student
rebellion, and when I was downtown, a person, Walter H.
Lively, asked me to get involved in printing. I could
never actually print per se, but I had an interest in
pre-press, now called word processing, but back in the
day it was called typesetting. I was fascinated by
typesetting, because it helped me to be creative and it
helped me later on to understand the art of computer
through the word processing field.
I have been to several community
colleges and also have courses in theology from a
Baltimore seminary. I received “Employee of the Month”
in 1993 at one of my employments and a certificate for
computer skills at one of the local community college in
Currently, I am assisting
NathanielTurner.Com, ChickenBones: a Journal,
with Brother Rudolph Lewis, who is the editor. I helped
in word processing and scanning photographs for the
journal. I have a son and two grandchildren whom I have
I tried to be open-minded,
persistent, and persevere. I always believe in helping
the disenfranchised through many activities within the
neighborhood, church affiliation, volunteer service and
actively being involved with ChickenBones for the
past few years. The first thing you learn is who you
are, and I realize that through the good and bad
situations, that I persevere through this knowledge of
“who I am” and “where I need to go” to handle the
condition and/or situation and not only of myself but
also through the conditions of the poor and oppressed.
Some of the scriptures that interest
me the most are: Psalm 84:10: For a day in the courts
is better than a thousand. I had rather be a
doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the
tents of wickedness; Proverbs 18:24: A man that hath
friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a
friend that sticketh closer than a brother; Mark
3:21: And when his friends heard of it, they went
out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside
himself; II Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be
in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are
passed away; behold, all things are become new; and
Hebrew 13:8: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to
day, and for ever.
I pick these scriptures because I
believe that theology, like in life, should be from the
bottom up. The poor and oppressed people are slave in an
endless cycle and they are on the bottom and do not have
any way out except to reach up. Blackness is not
exclusive as white Christian theology, but it includes
everyone who has been rejected as Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus was rejected twice in his home town of Nazareth.
As feeling like Jesus, because he was rejected on my
behalf, this helps me to be accepted through his
suffering, dying, and rising that He did—not for selfish
glory—but the liberation of the poor and oppressed.
This helps me to endure the suffering
of others—so that we all can be free. Black theology
gives self-confidence, self-control, self-discipline,
self-esteem, and self-interest. This theology helps us
to overcome as our forefathers and mothers tried to do
for us. This is not “foolish” pride or a racist
ideology/theology, but a love that was way back on
Calvary, that sets us free. Black theology takes risks.
White theology takes risks for “worldly pleasures.” The
haves (white theology) against the have-nots (black
theology). I assist in ChickenBones, so that we
learn from our past, live in the present, and prepare
for the future. This journal is important so we will
learn the truth. The Bible says “the truth will set us
free.” “Living for me, living for me, all my
transgression and now I am free, all because of Jesus is
living for me.”
* * *
* * *
The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
updated 16 August 2008