DEBUT BOOK BY:

Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens

Unloose My Heart:

 A Personal  Reckoning With the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree

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"This book chronicles braided journeys and back stories of exploration and discovery, full of angst, sorrow, and joy, as it seeks a mending. It tells of uncanny traveling adventures full of synchronicities and unexpected discoveries. Some included learning about African American cousins who taught the author grace and love. It is the story of a girl, finding herself in the apartheid world of Jim Crow Birmingham, Alabama, at the age of six. 
Her struggle to understand that world shadowed by her mother’s heritage of proud enslaving forbears lay fragmented until, near her ninth decade, she undertook the quest to find out what she did not know and record it for her beloved children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, for all her relations, and all others."
 
 

IN PRESS

Unloose My Heart is an irreplaceable narrative that goes well beyond personal experience and the examination of the author’s maternal ancestors’ slaveholding. Woven into the book are many themes: coming of age, Southernness, the complexity and endurance of family relationships, class struggles, convention and rebellion, service to fellowman, empowerment of women, self-awareness, and civil rights activities in Jim Crow Birmingham. Its overarching subject, the evils of racism, which is sadly and rightfully dark, is brightened by the author’s sweet spirit, honesty, and hope for a better future.

Laurie Gentry, Recovering Troubadour, Journalist, and Designer

Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

This book is more than a memoir set against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement; it is the work of a woman of conscience writing in the twenty-first century. Haunted by the past, her prose is a journey of exploration and discovery, full of angst, sorrow, and joy, as it seeks a mending. Her research unearthed an extensive history of slaveholding, arrogance, cruelty, trauma, and fear, forcing her to scrutinize the impact of this legacy in her life, as well as her debt to the enslaved people who suffered and were exploited at her ancestors’ hands. But she also discovers lost connections, new cousins and friends, and unexpected joys in the process, and, eventually, a measure of peace. With heartbreak, moments of grace, and an enduring sense of love, Unloose My Heart shines a light in the darkness and provides a model for a heartfelt reckoning with American history.

Unloose My Heart is a remarkable achievement of personal and historical journalism, a gripping account of how one young woman came to understand her family's debts in a segregated world and steps she took to settle them.

Jim Willse, former editor of The New York Daily News and reporter for The Southern Courier in the 1960s

New York

University of Alabama Press
 

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Unloose My Heart Author Bio

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Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens was born in Washington, DC, to a Pennsylvania father and a south Florida mother. In 1947, the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, arriving when the first bombings of African American establishments had begun. As Marcia grew up, she was profoundly affected by her exposure to the wrongs of Jim Crow, the ongoing atrocities, and pervasive injustice. Later, as a young mother, she and her then-husband participated in Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement. 

 

Herman-Giddens attended St John's College in Annapolis, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina, receiving her DrPH there in 1994. Just as the political climate of her childhood inspired her interest in racial justice and genealogy, her educational and life experiences fostered her love of books, nature, gardening, and the wide world of adventure. Dr. Herman-Giddens spent her career years in North Carolina, in the areas of  medicine, public health, research, scientific writing, and advocacy, primarily involving children. Her scientific papers have been published in numerous medical journals and books.

 

More recently, Herman-Giddens has turned her research and writing skills to her family ancestral history. Her debut book, Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree, interweaves her experiences in Birmingham’s perilous apartheid world with an examination of her maternal ancestors’ slaveholding history.

 

She writes and gardens beside a canopy of trees outside her office window, and cherishes her large family, which now includes two great-grandchildren.

 
 

BOOKS

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Unloose My Heart

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Sipping My Garden

 

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