In June of 1957, Governor James Coleman stepped before the cameras on NBC's "Meet the Press" and was asked whether the public schools would ever be integrated. "Well, ever is a long time," he replied," [but] I would say that a baby born in Mississippi today will never live long enough to see an integrated school." In this extraordinary pilgrimage, W. Ralph Eubanks recaptures the feel of growing up during this tumultuous era, deep in rural Mississippi.
Inspired by the 1998 declassification of files kept by the State Sovereignty Commission--an agency specifically created to maintain white supremacy--Ralph Eubanks embarks on an extraordinary pilgrimage to recapture the feel of growing up deep in rural Mississippi. Eubanks vividly evokes a time and place where even small steps across the Jim Crow line became a matter of life and death, he offers eloquent testimony to a family's grace against all odds. The result is a journey of discovery that leads Eubanks not only to surprising conclusions about his own family, but also to harrowing encounters with those involved in some of the era's darkest activities.
PRAISE FOR EVER IS A LONG TIME:
"Ralph Eubanks's Mississippi detective story wrapped in a memoir is a remarkable journey back to the civil rights future. This wistful little book holds a significance as rich as Delta loam."
--David Levering Lewis, author of W.E.B. Du Bois: the Fight for Equality and the American Century
"What I found particularly beautiful about Ralph Eubanks' Mississippi memoir was its lack of bitterness. As an African-American of that time and place, he has every right to be bitter. There is an elegance here in the prose, a righteousness here in his investigations of how the Sovereignty Commission spied on his family. But somehow he manages a lack of bitterness, which makes his story that much more memorable and believable. In spite of everything, his deep love for his native state shines through."
--Paul Hendrickson, author of Sons of Mississippi
"A gift to everyone who reads it.... In all respects, an exemplary and admirable piece of work."
--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"A poignant look at a small southern town during a tumultuous period."
"Ralph Eubanks gives us a rare insight."
--Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
"Compelling...by turns a charming remembrance of a rural childhood and a chilling reminder of racism's legacy."
"Eubank's memoir is written in clear, accessible prose...his straightforward manner makes the emotional issues and difficult memories all the more poignant."
--The Sun Herald
In 1914, in defiance of his middle-class landowning family, a young white man named James Morgan Richardson married a light-skinned black woman named Edna Howell. Over their more than 20 years of marriage, they formed a strong family and built a house at the end of a winding sandy road in South Alabama, a place where their safety from the hostile world around them was assured and where they developed a unique racial and cultural identity. Jim and Edna Richardson were Ralph Eubanks's grandparents.
Part personal journey, part cultural biography, The House at the End of the Road examines a little-known piece of this country's past: interracial families that survived and prevailed in defiance of Jim Crow laws, including those prohibiting interracial marriage. As he did in his acclaimed 2003 memoir, Ever is a Long Time, Eubanks uses interviews, oral history, and archival research to tell a story about race in American life that few readers have experienced. in lyrical, evocative prose, this extraordinary book pierces the heart of issues of race and racial identity, leaving us ultimately hopeful about the world as our children might see it.
PRAISE FOR THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE ROAD
Eubanks’s story about his grandparents—an American mixed-race couple living openly (and precariously) in the cold heart of 1920s Jim Crow Alabama—enacts the liberating magic of literature: it finds its truth in between conventional wisdom and sociological presumption, in between lies and faulty history. It is a story of race, of family, of place itself, and it tells us that compassion and the stirring force of individual human endeavor finally mean more than anything.”
“Ralph Eubanks pieces together this intricate story across three generations of his family, and in turn sheds powerful new light on the complex story of race and identity in these United States. A pleasure to read, a poignant American story not to be missed.”
—DAVE ISAY, Founder of StoryCorps
“Ralph Eubanks’s grandparents created an interracial family in rural Alabama nearly a century ago. Now he has taken his family’s story and used it to explore our changing American ideas about what to make of our ancestries. His work should inspire all of us to think anew about our country.” —K. ANTHONY APPIAH,
Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
“Eubanks writes with a novelist’s sense of story and a poet’s eye for language and detail. Most importantly, though, he writes with sensitivity, understanding and Socratic wisdom. This is not just an important book for these times—it’s a book for all time.”
—STEVE YARBROUGH, author of Prisoners of War