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Blood Done Sign My Name

A 2005 non-fiction book by Timothy B. Tyson.

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Confronting the painful history of race in America. This may be the best book I have ever read.

  • Nov 26, 2008
Author Timothy B. Tyson has carved out a rather unique role for himself.  Believe it or not, he is a white man from North Carolina teaching Black History in Wisconsin.  "Blood Done Sign My Name:  A True Story" is the compelling, personal and brutally honest story of how this all came to be.
Tyson was 10 years old back in 1970 and living with his family in the small rural town of Oxford, N.C.  His dad was the Methodist minister and his mom a schoolteacher in town. One day in May, his 10 year old playmate Gerald Teel casually remarked that "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger."  Indeed, his daddy and two of this brothers had brutally shot and killed a 23 year old black man, Henry Marrow, for very dubious reasons.  This single event would have profound implications for the little town of Oxford and would play a major role in shaping the life of one Tim Tyson.

"Blood Done Sign My Name" is a remarkable book on many levels.  If you are interested in learning more about the arrest and subsequent trial of Robert Teel then you will certainly find it here.  It is not a pretty story.  Likewise, if you would like to learn more about the painful history of race relations in this country then this is your book as well. Tyson believes with all his heart that most of us have an extremely distorted and somewhat sugar-coated view of what really went on in this country during the 1960's and 1970's.  For example, as a fairly well read white man in his 50's I had never even heard about two incidents that Tyson contends are key to understanding what really happened in those years.  When you read about the case of the Wilmington Ten you begin to understand the rage black people felt back in the early 1970's.  And when you read the grisly and heartbreaking story of what happened to some slaves who dared to rebel at the Destrehen Plantation in Louisiana way back in 1811, you again begin to appreciate the reasons why blacks in this country feel and react the way they do.  The history books that most of us read in school never mention incidents like these.  So how are we to know? And if we don't know, how can we possibly understand?

And finally, "Blood Done Sign My Name:  A True Story" is an intimate account of one man's personal struggle with the issue of race.  Tim Tyson has presented us with an exceptionally well written book that offers the reader an awful lot to chew on.   This is one of the best books that I have ever read!    A full-length motion picture based on these events was released in February 2010. Very highly recommended!
Confronting the painful history of race in America. This may be the best book I have ever read.

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May 30, 2009
I think you would enjoy Magic Time by Doug Marlette. The main character, A Southerner, connects with Freedom Fighters through a negro friend, falls in love with a fighter from New York and becomes involved in pivotal events in the Civil Rights movement in 1964. Marlette invokes many stereotypical southern characters, surrounding the main story with a believable essence of the South in the 60's. The story takes place in the 90's with memories carrying the 60's events.
May 10, 2009
I will definitely read this book. Thank you for the excellent review.
April 30, 2009
Blood Done Sign My Name is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. I could not stop talking about it in the summer of 2005 after I had read it. I had been living in Durham, North Carolina, just down Rt 85 from Oxford, for less than a year. I recommended the book to my husband's administrative assistant who is African American. Her reply to me was, " I don't need to read about it; I lived it." Reading this book helped introduce this Yankee to living in the South. The young man murdered would be my age now if he had lived. The racial upheavals of the 60's were something this suburban girl saw on the news in Upstate, New York. Yet the blanket of segregation casts a shadow over this southern city.
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Great Sociological Read
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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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“Daddy and Roger and ’em shot ’em a nigger.” Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by a playmate, heralded a ?restorm that would forever transform the tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina.

On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life.

Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Klan raged in the shadows and black Vietnam veterans torched the town’s tobacco warehouses. Tyson’s father, the pastor of Oxford’s all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.

Tim Tyson’s riveting narrative of that fiery summer brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to a shocking episode of our history. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Blood Done Sign My Name is a classic portrait of an unforgettable time and place.

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ISBN-10: 1400083117 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9781400083114 (pbk.)
Author: Timothy B. Tyson
Genre: History
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Date Published: May 3, 2005
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