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Book by W-S native explores
race, religion and reconciliation
BY KYUNG JIN LEE
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
"GIVE UP on North Carolina? Can any of us really
uproot what's deeply embedded?" writes Cedric Brown,
in his new book. "Tar Heel Born."
Published in 2015 by Junie's Mood Press, the book is
a collection of seven narrative poems about his relation
ship with his home state of North Carolina. Brown was
born and raised in Winston
Salem and moved to the San
Francisco Bay Area just after
graduating from the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill in
He has reflected on his the
state since then, but the real
impetus to begin writing came
after the 2012 passage of
Amendment One, which made it
unconstitutional for the state to
recognize or perform same-sex
marriages or civil unions.
Mere is a place tnat i love Dut couldn t live there," he
said, touching on the fundamental conflict he felt at the
time as a gay man. A U.S. District Judge ruled the amend
ment unconstitutional in 2014.
In "Tar Heel Born," Brown smoothly flows between
pain and joy, anger and love, and the ephemeral crevices
in between to find his personal truth about the complexi
ties of North Carolina. He not only tackles tough topics
like his sexual identity, but also racism, Christianity, limi
tations and growing into a man in college.
Given the ongoing debates around the Black Lives
Matter movement and marriage equality versus religious
liberty, the book speaks to historical issues that continue to
have relevance today.
"It's about how we think about identity, the future of
this nation, how we relate to being citizens and residents
in this country," he said.
Brown said compiling memories of racist incidents he
experienced as a child was difficult.
"A white girl naming her pet Nigger Kitty, 'Not
because it's a black cat,' she said, 'but because it's stu
pid,'" reads another poem, "Scars."
In fact, it still makes him uncomfortable.
"Talking about what I saw and how dehumanized I felt
by the arrogance and unawareness I witnessed around race
was the most painful part," he said.
At the same time. Brown found joy in writing about
discovering North Carolina and its history, symbolism and
geography during a four-day field trip in the fourth grade.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway to Jockey's Ridge State
Pa;k, Brown said that's when the state came alive to him.
"It gives me a warm feeling about home," he said.
The memories are still very vivid. And that's when I dis
covered there was a bigger world than my hometown and
I wanted to leam more about it."
He said he loves to visit the state several times a year.
Brown still thinks of North Carolina as home, and still
considers himself a Southern gentleman. He feels so con
nected to the Winston-Salem community that he recently
established the Archie-Brown Springboard Fund, which
awards a $1,000 prize to an African-American high
school aged young man in Winston-Salem, as well as in
his current hometown of Oakland.
"[North Carolina] taught me so many practical things
about being human, how to treat other people, how to nav
igate life," he said. "I carry a lot of that upbringing with
me now. It helps shape who I am and how I exist in the
Brown said his most of his readers responded to the
larger message of home and what it means to leave home.
"However you describe what home is: whether it's a
house, a family, a community or a state, what does home
mean and what does it mean to leave home?" he asks.
"The story resonates with anyone who had a home they
felt like they had to leave because it didn't represent the
values they came to learn."
Brown had a booth at the Bookmarks Festival of
Books and Authors last week in Winston-Salem, and did a
reading at Reynolds High School, his alma mater. More
information is available at Juniesmood.com.
Forsyth Tech supports
Global Logistics students
SPRflAL TO THE CHRONICLE
Forsyth Tech fulfills its mission to help students grad
uate in a number of significant ways. Recently, two grad
uates of the Global Logistics Technology program experi
enced first-hand how the college goes above and beyond
to help students complete their degree.
Demetria Led better, program coordinator for Global
Logistics Technology, discovered that two of her students
weren t eligible tor graduation,
because job commitments prevent
ed them from taking the final
course in their program, a face-to
face evening class, Math 110.
Calissa Hooper is a store man- k
ager at two McDonald's stores and I
mother to five daughters, two of I
whom are school age. Stacy r
Bradley works as an account man- b
ager for a Third Party Logistics |
Company (3PL) and has an unpre
dictable work schedule. Neither
student could attend the evening math class, which was
the only requirement that stood in the way between them
and their diploma. +
Hooper remembers, "I'm not the kind of person (to
give up, but I felt like I was out of options."
In order to help these
students complete their
degree, Ledbetter worked
with Dr. Sharilyn Owens,
department chair of the
Math Department, to set
up an online course for
the summer session.
Working quickly and effi
ciently this past spring,
Owens put the class
together in about two
months, including hiring a
new instructor. The class
filled to capacity, meeting
the needs of other stu
dents as well.
Both Hooper and
Bradley aced the Math
110 class while maintain
ing their job responsibili
ties. They graduated on
July 31 and plan to use
their new degree to
advance their careers in
"This means a lot to
me," says Bradley. "Ms.
Ledbetter sought me out.
iisieneu to my situation, ana carea enougn to ao some
thing about it. With my degree, I feel better equipped for
my job, and stand as an example for my children.
"I've faced lots of challenges getting my degree, but
in the end, it was a true success," says Hooper. "And I
know it doesn't stop with me. I'm confident Forsyth Tech
will continue to help students where they are."
Calissa Hooper shows her
graduation gown and
l!_. a ?? j
^ ^ ? I
$3.9 billion for education over the last nine years. That's right. Together, North Carolinians
have added classrooms, funded pre-K programs, sent kids to college, kept teachers and
teacher assistants teaching, and helped schools have more of the technology they need. Last
year alone, more than half a billion dollars was contributed to the $11 billion N.C. education
budget. To see what the money has done in your community, visit WeAIIDidThis.com.
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