The Kansas City Star posted an article this week about Michele Norris, co-host of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” who has written a memoir called The Grace Of Silence. Norris unearthed two truths about her family. Her father had been shot in the leg in Birmingham, Ala., by a white police officer in 1946, and her grandmother had worked for Quaker Oats as a traveling Aunt Jemima in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Norris’ book came out about the same time the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Ernest Withers, a civil rights photographer, also had been an FBI informant. Both stories made me think about how history is told, especially when it involves race. Withers’ family had no idea the man who had unfettered access to the civil rights movement and its leaders also provided information about the movement to the FBI. I am further intrigued because I know there is a strong possibility I will learn a family secret or two as I delve into race and family as I report and write my memoir.
I may have to pick up Norris’ book. Has anyone read it?