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Oral history gathers important material that might otherwise be lost forever. Not everyone can write, but with a keen and devoted listener and recorder, even those who might not write can weave a life story that has value for others — for families and friends, descendants, and a wider audience for first-hand history.
Among our books, To Be A Man by Johnnie Wilson, Jr. is a significant contribution to our oral history — the amazing life story of a boy who survived and thrived after his family’s murder in the old south, who traveled the country in search of a life, played Negro League Baseball, and settled in San Francisco to work as a longshoreman and build his own life and family. Johnnie’s life, as relayed by the masterful listener/writer Susan Gluck Rothenberg, is a signal tale of 20th-century African-American experience.
“Real history is about real people, and when it is told in their own words, their story becomes a vital part of ours. Here is an unusually compelling story to add to our own.” Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, Harvard university