Never, a Civil Rights story, with Joel Johnson

Coming of age in the segregated south … In this debut novel, Joel Johnson's narrator looks back on a childhood in the fictional town of LaSalle, Georgia, a place notorious in the history of the civil rights movement.

“Those were just the times.” That’s how Morris “Little” Nickerson has always dismissed the incongruities of growing up in the segregated town of LaSalle, Georgia. But a call from his sister forces Little to reexamine a childhood he's kept encased in glass for more than fifty years. As he tries to make sense of one eventful summer, Little brings to life the people he knew and loved: Reverend Robert McAllister, the father of his best friend, who speaks the high-flown language of social change but preaches to an all-white congregation; Bit, the Black family maid, who is like a second mother to him but is made to sit in the back of his family’s car; Morris Nickerson, Little’s brusque, but reliable father, and Elizabeth, his vulnerable, mysterious mother. 

In Never, three families struggle to keep their footing in a crumbling society. It is a story of conflict between love and obligation, memory and truth, between what a boy intuits and an old man knows.

Presented by the Wayland Free Public Library and the Wayland Human Rights, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Joel F. Johnson grew up in Columbus, Georgia and atended segregated public schools through sixth grade. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the author of Where Inches Seem Miles, a collection of poems. Johnson spent seven years writing his first novel while maintaining his “day job” as a self-employed financial advisor. Though the story makes use of Johnson’s memories of a childhood in Georgia, students of the civil rights movement will recognize landmark events from those turbulent years: the mass arrests in Albany, Georgia, the children’s march in Birmingham, and the notorious “Never” pin worn by Sheriff Jim Clark of Selma, Alabama

Wednesday Feb 14, 2024
7:00 PM  -  8:30 PM
Courtney Michael    508-358-2311
Raytheon Room
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