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Grace of Silence

Norris, host of National Public Radio's
Things Considered," set out to write about "the hidden conversation on
race" and in doing so unearthed painful family secrets--from her
father's shooting by the Birmingham police within weeks of his discharge
from service in World War II to her grandmother's peddling pancake mix
as an itinerant Aunt Jemima.

The Grace of Silence: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307378767
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Pantheon Books - September 21st, 2010

In this eloquent and affecting memoir, Norris, co-host of NPR's All Things
Considered, examines both her family's racial roots and secrets. Spurred
on by Barack Obama's campaign and a multipart NPR piece she spearheaded
about race relations in America, Norris realized that she couldn't
fully understand how other people talked about race until she understood
how her own family dealt with it, particularly with their silence
regarding two key events. She intersperses memories of her Minneapolis
childhood with the events that shaped her parents' lives: her maternal
grandmother's short career as a traveling "Aunt Jemima," which always
embarrassed her mother, and her father's shooting by a white policeman
in Alabama in 1946. It is the shooting, which occurred soon after Belvin
Norris Jr. was honorably discharged from the navy, that forms the
narrative and emotional backbone of Norris's story, as she travels to
Birmingham to try and piece together what happened. Though the quest is a
personal one, Norris poignantly illuminates the struggle of black
veterans returning home and receiving nothing but condemnation for their
service. The issue of race in America is the subject of an ongoing
conversation, and Norris never shies away from asking the same difficult
questions of herself that she asks of others because "all of us should
be willing to remain at the table even when things get uncomfortable."

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Book | by Dr. Radut