Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Molly Walling at Lemuria

Molly Walling, author of Death in the Delta: Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret, will be signing and reading her new book this Thursday (October 18) at Lemuria Books in Jackson. Walling will begin signing at 5:00 and will read from her book at 5:30.

As an adult, Walling discovered her father's complicity in the murder of two black men on December 12, 1946, in Anguilla, deep in the Mississippi Delta. Death in the Delta tells the story of one woman's search for the truth behind a closely held, sixty-year-old family secret.
 
After her father’s hearing before an all-white grand jury, his case was not prosecuted. Indeed, it appeared as if the incident never occurred, and he resumed his life as a small-town newspaper editor. Walling’s long-standing
apprehension turned into a consuming need to know.


“Dad…shot a man?”
“Yeah…Killed him.”

Immediately I started pacing back and forth between the den and kitchen, rubbing my forehead so this news could come in. Jay picked up the conversation, sharing other family news that was more mundane in nature. But I wasn’t listening to him.

I couldn’t believe what he had told me. It rattled around in my brain for the next couple of days, challenging long-held beliefs that I held about my father. I felt deeply confused, didn’t sleep, couldn’t think about anything else. Though I trusted Uncle Tom to get things right, I wasn’t sure I could believe this story. Why was Dad there? Who did he shoot? What provoked it? I caught myself standing still, shaking my head. This dreadful event had to have happened in the mid ‘40s when Mom and Dad were newly married and living near my grandmother Fields on the family plantation in the Mississippi Delta.

Each of Walling's trips back to the Delta brought unsettling and unexpected clues. Family members of one of the victims tell Walling their stories. A ninety-three-year-old black historian and witness gives context and advice. A county attorney suggests her family's history of commingling with black women was at the heart of the deadly confrontation. Firsthand the author recognizes how privilege, entitlement, and racial bias in a wealthy, landed southern family resulted in a deadly abuse of power followed by a stifling, decades-long cover up.

Molly Walling now lives in Asheville, North Carolina and is an adjunct writing instructor at University of North Carolina, Asheville. She was born in Anguilla, Mississippi.

Death in the Delta
is now available from UPM.

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