The Road South: A Memoir

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9780446530279: The Road South: A Memoir

As a five-year-old in Home-wood, Alabama, Shelley Stewart watched his father kill his mother with an axe. Two years later, Stewart escaped the care of abusive relatives, making a living as a stable hand. A stint in the army led to electroshock treatments for trying to integrate whites-only dances. But despite numerous setbacks, he never gave up his will to succeed. Eventually, odd jobs at radio stations laid the foundation for a 50-year career in broadcasting. As an African-American radio personality, Stewart reached out to Jim Crow Alabama, using music to integrate his audience. Along the way, he helped launch the careers of such legends as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Gladys Knight. Instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement, he publicized the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A remarkable witness to and participant in the momentous social changes of the last three decades, Stewart, now a successful businessman and community leader, shares his courageous personal story that shows the indomitable strength of the human spirit.

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About the Author:

Shelley Stewart lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this riveting memoir, Stewart, a prominent African-American businessman and radio personality for more than 50 years, tells a harrowing, inspiring story rivaling any of the current hard-bitten chronicles heralding triumph over poverty and other social obstacles. He opens by recollecting a racial incident during his days on the radio as "Shelley the Playboy," in which several of his white teenaged fans serve as an unlikely buffer between their idol and some irate Birmingham Klansmen, Stewart withstands the constant wrath of a father who gambles, drinks excessively and steals, and eventually kills his dutiful wife while his children watch. Spurned by relatives, the children reside briefly with a malicious aunt, who feeds them fried rats and makes them sleep on bedbug-infested mattresses, while they scavenge in the streets for survival. Vicious beatings, deprivation and sexual abuse inflicted upon the children drive them to seek refuge with a white man named Papa Clyde and his family, who treat them with a kindness that defies the era's racial code. If the lows of Stewart's remarkable life are depicted with frank, clear-eyed potency, then his recovery from depression and alcoholism come off as almost miraculous. In the author's fairly low-key narrative, he weathers a troubled military tour, a stint in a mental ward, a start-and-stop marriage and run-ins with the law. Through the years of struggle and short-term success, Stewart's determination and resourcefulness propel him to radio stardom and ownership of a multimillion dollar music business empire, something the author nearly underplays in this powerful, moving rags-to-riches tale.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Shelley Stewart; Nathan Hale Turner
Published by Grand Central Publishing (2002)
ISBN 10: 0446530271 ISBN 13: 9780446530279
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Shelley Stewart, Nathan Hale Turner
Published by Grand Central Publishing (2002)
ISBN 10: 0446530271 ISBN 13: 9780446530279
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