Praying for Sheetrock

Golden Week 028

by Melissa Fay Greene

Along the coastal waters of Georgia lies McIntosh County, a quiet country area that time had forgotten.Well into the 1970’s the town remained entirely segregated. Although black citizens were in the majority, no shops, no banks, no public offices employed any African Americans.  The town was controlled by a corrupt sheriff named Tom Poppell who continued to be elected year after year, handing out favors to his supporters.

Although the Civil Rights movement had spread across the country and brought great change, nothing had changed in this one pocket of the old South. Then one day, something happened that made the people stand up and face off with the sheriff. The chief of police had stuck his pistol in a man’s mouth and shot him, then locked him up without medical attention. Word spread and people began to gather. They chose Thurnell Alston. a decent family man who was deeply respected, for their spokesman.

What unfolds next is certainly not what I expected when I picked up this book. Yet, though somewhat disappointed in how things turn out, I found the author to be honest  in the telling, not trying to put a good face on things.

Although the title comes from one small unrelated incident in the book, it also reveals something about the corrupt ways of the white sheriff who distributes the bounty from trucking accidents to the needy residents. It was interesting to read about the particular events that finally make people  notice their situation and decide to change things.
It made me think back on my life and the series of events that brought me to finally free myself from oppression and abuse. It seems people stand things for many years and just one thing may happen to wake them up. Interesting reading.


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