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Garrison, Mary 1952-

GARRISON, Mary 1952-

PERSONAL:

Born April 22, 1952, in Augusta, GA; daughter of H. Levy, Jr. (a South Carolina Methodist minister) and Ruth (a homemaker; maiden name, Gilstrap) Rogers; married William T. Garrison (a dentist), August 12, 1973; children: Patrick, Anne. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Columbia College, 1970-1972; Emory University, B.A., 1974. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, hiking, traveling, family, community volunteering.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, White Mane Publishing Company, P.O. Box 708, 63 West Burd St., Shippensburg, PA 17257. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Freelance writer. Times-News, Henderson-ville, NC, community columnist, 1984—; previously worked as a teacher assistant and foundation director. Volunteer in local schools.

MEMBER:

NC Press Club, National Federation of Press Women.

AWARDS, HONORS:

First place, NC Press Club Communications Contest, 2002, for columns; first place, National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest, 2003, for columns; Juvenile Book Award, NC Press Club, Juvenile Book Award, National Federation of Press Women, and Top Forty Young Adult Books selection, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, all 2003, all for Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes.

WRITINGS:

Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes, White Mane Publishing Company (Shippensburg, PA), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mary Garrison was drawn to writing by her father-in-law, Webb Garrison. A prolific writer (over sixty books in his lifetime) with a particular interest in the Civil War, he involved his family in developing book ideas, research, and proofreading. In an effort to interest his family members in writing during his last year of life, he strongly encouraged them to write books for children and young adults on Civil War topics. Garrison took up the challenge, ultimately publishing Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes.

In describing her interest to CA, Garrison wrote, "Why would a fifty-year-old white Southern woman want to write a book about slavery? I have a personal interest in this since I attended the first public school in South Carolina that desegregated during the 1960s. It was a tumultuous time, both personally and historically, and sparked an interest in race relations for me. I think the history of slavery is something that we often react to with anger, shame, defensiveness, or denial.…Why not talk about it head on, acknowledge it for what it was, and see what we can learn from it? Some people … especially some Southerners, will say things like, 'well, all slave owners were not bad.…' But stop and put yourself in that situation. Think about … being owned by another human being even under the best of circumstances. When your freedom, your civil liberties, and your dignity, your time, even your spouse and your children belong to someone else, what kind of life is that really?"

In Slaves Who Dared, Garrison recounts the remarkable stories of ten men and women who were born into but escaped from slavery. While some, like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Booker T. Washington are famous, others are not and their stories bear telling, remarked reviewers, not only for the exceptional courage they showed individually, but for the creativity with which they sought escape and established new lives. These stories are drawn directly from narratives that these individuals either wrote themselves or told to someone. In her review for Booklist, Hazel Rochman noted favorably the author's "weaving into each narrative many actual quotes, illustrations … and the drama of how and where the stories were recorded." Historical photos, captions, and sidebars that explained concepts presented in the text were found useful by Linda Greengrass in her review for School Library Journal. A comprehensive index and bibliography, Web sites for locating original narratives, and an extensive suggested reading list complete this book.

In reaching her decision to write Slaves Who Dared, Garrison concluded that, "the stories of these slaves are more than worthy of preservation. Young people need heroes and they should be the right kinds of heroes. Sure, there are those in TV and comic books. And there's Nintendo, and the computer, and the Internet. But how many worthy role models are they exposed to today? What do they really know about courage in the face of adversity? How do these heroes that escaped from slavery stack up against … a video game? There's no comparison."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes, p. 73.

Civil War Book Review, winter, 2003, Carolyn P. Yoder, review of Slaves Who Dared, p. 19.

Savannah Morning News, August 4, 2002, Doug Wyatt, "Flights to Freedom: Remarkable stories of slaves who refused to quit dreaming," pp. 8, 15.

School Library Journal, July, 2002, Linda Greengrass, review of Slaves Who Dared, p. 134.

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