02/25/08 — Wayne County Reads finale scheduled for tonight

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Wayne County Reads finale scheduled for tonight

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 25, 2008 1:47 PM

The Wayne County Reads program will focus attention on the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on Wayne County tonight during its final event -- a panel discussion with the Rev. Vernon Tyson and several residents who lived through the troubled time in American history.

Tyson is the father of Timothy Tyson, the author of the 2008 Wayne County Reads project book, "Blood Done Sign My Name." The panel discussion is set for 7 p.m. at Rebuilding Broken Places at 2105 N. William St. Members of the panel will recall their experiences from the social upheaval of the 1960s and early 1970s and give their personal reactions to the book.

Panelist include Carolyn Buffalo, J.D. Evans, Betty Kemp, Gene Price, and the Rev. Glenwood Burden Sr.

Gerald Simmons will serve as the moderator. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and contribute to the discussion.

"Blood Done Sign My Name" is required reading for many students throughout the county, and a small group from Wayne Country Day School recently had a discussion of their own about the book. Several said racial discrimination still exists. The only difference now, they say, is it is more subtle.

Dominique Eason, 14, of Goldsboro, and his friends attend Wayne Country Day School. "Blood Done Sign My Name" is a class project for them.

It's good to know it wasn't all whites versus blacks and that some white people believed racial hatred was wrong, he said. And society has come a long way since those days depicted in the book.

But being a son of a interracial marriage, he said he has experienced discrimination himself.

"When you're hanging out with your friends and they come to you one day and say, 'I can't hang out with you' and you ask why. They say, My parents said so.' ....

"As a product of an interracial relationship, people ask what are you? I say, 'A human being,'" he said.

Breanne Radford, 17, of Goldsboro, said she has seen discrimination firsthand.

"A friend was dating a black guy, and her family was very upset. They cut her off from a lot of things and told her she was cutting her opportunities in half," she said.

Breanne is multicultural, too. It doesn't bother her now.

"It did when I was little," she said. "It's like they want you to choose a side. Pick a culture. They want to put you in a box. It's easier that way.

"It's still there," she said, referring to the quiet forms of racism she sees and feels. "People don't want to think of themselves as racist. They don't want to hear they're ignorant. It's a total paradox. If you know you're ignorant, you're no longer ignorant."

All Wayne County Reads activities are free and open to the public. For information, go to www.waynecountyreads.com.