Bob Smith Detroit Melodrama

ISBN 13: 9781492349181

Detroit Melodrama

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9781492349181: Detroit Melodrama

Detroit Melodrama follows several characters from the Appalachian region of America as they try to make a new life in the trucking industry in urban Detroit. President John Kennedy is in office, black people are demonstrating for equal rights in the deep South and being beaten and persecuted by police and vigilantes, federal civil rights legislation is stalled, and the white “down home” folk in Detroit are getting nervous. One of them, Juarez Johnson, doesn’t share the disdain for black people expressed by his friends. He has had an affair with a younger black girl years before, and altruistically helped her through college and medical school as a friend. He keeps this secret to avoid harassment. His friend and mentor, Homer Parker, is a five times wounded veteran of World War Two and the Korean War. He is trying desperately to get back into service so that he can go to Vietnam and help keep his sergeant son safe. Big John Beck is a pathetically lonely security guard, who features himself more as a regular policeman. He drinks excessively, is a womanizer, but really is looking for love and acceptance, which never comes to him. Jack Scott is a medical student from Canada, a background character working at the Red Star freight terminal as a security guard and attending classes, too. Sunny Dawson is a young lawyer of color. She is torn between an urge to act white and advance in a white world, or to eschew the material and champion her suffering black people. Complicating her life is rapid entry into corporation law, quick advancement with heaps of seductive perquisites, and her attraction to Juarez Johnson, an Appalachian raised laborer who is far beneath her socially and intellectually. The narrative takes readers down Woodward Avenue with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he leads 150,000 black Detroiters on the “walk to freedom.” His stirring voice delivers the first “I have a dream” speech, which weeks later will be heard in Washington and around the world. The nation is shocked and mourns when the youthful, popular President John Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas and ironically, his death causes pending civil rights legislation to sweep through Congress. Juarez Johnson falls in love with a beautiful black lawyer and she is intrigued with the man, but she does not know he has murdered three of her people. In a strong and descriptive plot, this epic novel exposes the extent of the racial prejudice that was so strong that white people considered it part of normal American life and really did believe black people were inferior and the social order was just. The reader gets an untraveled look at Detroit as it was and America as it was and the strong white male-dominated society, which still predominates and perpetuates its own survival. Each year, younger people with progressive ideas keep waiting for the “old men” to step aside, or to die, but then they become the old men themselves. The world will be amazed at how far black people in America, though still oppressed and discriminated against, truly have advanced since the New Frontier years of the Kennedy era, when no black faces were seen in a television commercial and black doctors were still being barred from practicing in the nation’s general hospitals. A read of this exciting novel will reveal why things had to exchange, just how utterly disenfranchised America’s black people were. There is love, romance, violence, jealousy, bigotry, compassion, heartbreak, chivalry, sadness, hopelessness, courage, every emotion and element that threatens and strengthens the great nation of America and its many societies. Diverse as its people may be, none will disavow that America not only is their home, but also their opportunity and their life. Love it, hate it, want to keep it as it is, want to change it, it is theirs.

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About the Author:

The author came to Detroit at the end of the 1950’s to study medicine at Wayne State University. It was very difficult getting into the medical school in those days, particularly for an older student and, not the least of the drawbacks, it was very expensive. The proprietor of the Wayne Medical Book Store was a university instructor in journalism and former career newspaperman. He read something the author had written, took him aside for a heart to heart talk. A career in journalism and writing was launched. It might have been in desperation. It retrospect, it was in desperation. There is a difference between the two disciplines. Blending them can have an excellent effect, or a disastrous one. One tends to eat into the other. The author has reported from Detroit, New York City, Washington, Paris, Seoul, Hanoi, Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City, Toronto, Ottawa and the Canadian High Arctic. He has also been a corporation executive. He was for many years a consultant to several leading American corporations and to the American subsidiary operations of two major French and German enterprises. When George W. Romney was U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development he wanted to develop a quasi-governmental agency that could tackle racial and other urban problems in any city by enlisting volunteer support. In response, the author developed the action plan and methodology for what became the National Center for Voluntary Action, which was then an adjunct to the White House. It has functioned under seven consecutive Presidents. Henry Ford II served as its chairman from 1970 to 1972 and George W. Romney later became its president. Through a series of mergers, the original organization still is functioning within the non-governmental Points of Light organization, which has 250 affiliates in 22 nations and performs more than 30 million hours or voluntary service annually.

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