Denise Nicholas Freshwater Road

ISBN 13: 9781572841956

Freshwater Road

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9781572841956: Freshwater Road

From award-winning actress Denise Nicholas: a ten-year anniversary reissue of her powerful and dramatic coming of age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Freshwater Road has been called one of the best novels written about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicholas herself has been praised repeatedly over the years for her beautiful prose and is continually mentioned along with Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines as the most important novelists documenting this era.

When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she's assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.

By summer's end, Celeste learns there are no easy answers to the questions that preoccupy her—about violence and nonviolence, about race, identity, and color, and about the strength of love and family bonds. In Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas has created an unforgettable story that—more than ten years after first appearing in print—continues to be one of the most cherished works of Civil Rights fiction.

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About the Author:

Denise Nicholas is an actor and writer who has starred in numerous films and TV shows, including Room 222, for which she earned three Golden Globe nominations, and In the Heat of the Night, for which she also wrote several episodes. She lives in Southern California and is currently at work on a memoir.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

Out of Memphis with night drawing up thick to the windows, Celeste felt the air pressing down. She'd dressed in a gabardine jumper and a long-sleeved blouse against the lingering cool of a June Ann Arbor morning. Now, her clothes weighed on her like a damp blanket. She closed her eyes. Before sunset, the trees had segued to a double-dyed richness of color and the loamy soil had turned blood-rust. Soft-talking voices of the train passengers mutated from the flat singsong of the Midwest to the sloping drawls of the deep South. She shuddered, remembering a life she'd never lived, then laughed at the irony. Every Negro in America had a nightmare of Mississippi, of dying in the clutches of a hatred so deep it spoke in tongues.

The conductor, a tall square-jawed dark-skinned man, his upper body leaning into the car as if primed to run in the other direction, called out, "Senatobia." He clanged the metal door closed. Earlier, he'd walked the aisle swaying with the train, announcing the names of towns, his resonant voice a clarion call to freedom. He nodded to her quiet self, scrunched in her corner, a map of the Southern states spread on the seat next to her. The mimeographed sheets from One Man, One Vote blared out in bold type, "How to Stay Alive in Mississippi." He knew why she was on this train.

She peered through the dirty window when he poked his head into the car and called out, "Sardis." Not a soul on the platform. They barely stopped. The train lurched forward, slow-waddling south.

Sardis. Senatobia. Idyllic names. She checked her map.

"Grenada." What's he saying? An island paradise in the Caribbean with long, sun-drenched beaches and fountains splashing cool water on lush flowers? A quick glance to her. Why does he duck his head in and out like he's hiding in a closet? His eyes are like black marbles in the murky train light.

Saliva had pooled in the corner of her mouth by the time he called out, "Vaughan." At the soft edge of sleep, Celeste dreamed of Negroes darting their ghostly selves like wild children playing hide-and-go-seek. The conductor peeked from behind a tree. She forgot completely where she was going and why. When he called out "Canton," her stomach growled in yearning for Chinese food at one of Shuck's stops in Detroit. Egg foo yung, shrimp in oyster sauce, sweet and sour pork. Shuck's diamond pinkie ring sparkled against his brown skin in the neon light as he held the white carry-out bags away from his camel hair coat.

In the foggy back hollow of her surface doze, a new voice calls out, "Jack-son, Miss'sippi." Miss Sippi lives down the street. She longs to sleep past her ticketed stop, but can't escape the appalling pictures of hunted people scattering behind her eyes. "Jack-son." When the train braked with a low howl and a long screech, she woke fully, gagging on the oily aftertaste of a Memphis ham sandwich, remembering Momma Bessie's warning that pork dreams were always nightmares.

By the time The City of New Orleans Limited rolled into the Jackson station, Celeste had been slouching upright on a worn-down seat for more than twelve hours. Counting the night trip from Ann Arbor to Chicago and the hard wait at the station there, it was closer to twenty-four. No sign of that conductor. Maybe he'd never been there at all. She hoisted her green canvas book bag onto her shoulder by the strap, wrestled her suitcase from behind the last row of seats, and stepped down to the platform. She took off toward the lobby, her suitcase banging her side, her book bag bouncing against her back.

When a rich, low voice called out, "Suh, lemme git dat fa ya, suh." Then, "Ma'am, I got dat, ma'am," Celeste turned to see a Negro porter bowing, grinning, and grabbing suitcases in one fluid intonation of the past. The porter caught her gape-mouthed stare, rolled his eyes, then flashed his pearly whites at the white passengers and continued his work. Ah, she thought, this was the real deal. Mississippi had to be the birthplace of the grovel, handmaiden to the blues, the crown jewel in the system of slavery, the kick-down place.

Celeste walked faster, her thighs chafing in the swollen heat, blessing her gym shoes with every step she took. She whizzed by lacquer-haired women wearing outdated sundresses and cigar chomping men. Out of the corners of their eyes came slices of stares, sharp as razor blades, which seemed to say, "I know why you're here, and you better go on home where you belong." The cigar smoke irritated her nose. At the end of her train, the dark well of soot-covered tracks disappeared into a pitch-black tunnel. She hurried on.

Under the yellowish glare of bare fluorescent tubes, just off the central waiting lobby of the station, Celeste came face-to-face with the first Whites Only sign she had ever seen in her life. She stared at the sign tacked to the ladies' room door, its letters hand-printed and uneven. She needed to go to the bathroom. A blush warmed her ears and acids grumbled her stomach. She surveyed the nearly deserted lobby, the stragglers from her train passing through to the street and a few bag-toting travelers loitering about, smoking. No signs pointing the way to the Negro restrooms. Anger tightened her jaws. The pressure in her bladder grew. It had been a long time since the rest stop in Memphis. Just then, another Negro woman, colorful scarf over a head of rollers, suitcase and bags beating her body, pushed herself, back first, into the ladies' room as if that sign were not there. Celeste followed her in, afraid to turn around to see if anyone noticed.

The woman moved fast, shoving her things under a washbowl and then ducking into a stall. Celeste did the same. Squatted over the dirty toilet, panties down, she imagined being grabbed by the ankles from under the door. Her mind snapped to the television news film she'd seen of young people, Negro and white, yanked off buses and beaten until blood flowed down their faces. Whites Only signs flashed like backdrops to a bloodletting. Two minutes off the train and here she was already breaking the law. Her imagination ran on full. But this was real. Her father, Shuck, used to say she had good book sense and not too much of the other. She heard the woman flush and exit the stall. She took deep breaths, pulled the flush chain, and came out into the glass-hard light of the bathroom.

Celeste eyed the ladies' room door, anxious to wash her hands and be on her way. "Is it okay to be in here?" She and the hair-rolled woman were co-conspirators. There was comfort in the assumed comradeship. At least she wasn't alone. They were in the Whites Only bathroom, had already used it. She had a story to tell, and she hadn't even gotten to the One Man, One Vote office.

The woman glanced at her sideways, digging in one of her bags, standing in front of the scum-pocked mirror. "Okay by who?" Her round eyes protruded slightly just above full cinnamon-brown cheeks. "Where you from?" Her head lurched back then settled as she worked on herself, her bag heaving up a comb and brush, toothpaste, a box of powder, a frayed puff, lipstick, rouge.

"Detroit." Negro people from the South favored the city of Detroit, that mystical blue-collar heaven of jobs. Shuck and Momma Bessie both did a lot of fussing about Negroes still coming up from the deep South searching for jobs that no longer existed, running the city services down the drain simply by the press of their numbers and needs. Celeste plunged soap containers along the line of washbowls. They were all empty. Still, she rejoiced at rolling up her long sleeves to the elbows and getting that fabric off her damp skin.

"Detroit, uh?" The woman smiled a knowing smile, as if honoring Celeste with a good check mark. "Chile, nobody pays that sign no mind no more. Course now, white ladies stopped coming in here." She indicated the overflowing trash receptacle, the dirty mirror and basins. "The law says we can come in here, it don't say they have to come in here." She squinted in the mirror.

Celeste took it in, trying to grasp the logic. "Where do they go?" She saw long corridors of bathrooms with color-coded signs, some white, some Negro, some integrated, and some unmarked. Wrong door, bad news. Maybe they gave their old ladies' rooms to Negroes and built spanking brand-new ones for themselves, left the signs up to confuse everyone. How long could they do that?

"I don't give a damn where they go." The woman applied her makeup as she talked, manicured nails glowing fuchsia. Then her deft hands quickly removed hair rollers. She brushed her hair, then applied rouge and powder to her face. "Those signs were down 'til the white folks got word about this Freedom Summer thing." She glanced at Celeste with a suspicious narrowing of her eyes, then coughed. She took a plug of toothpaste on her finger, rubbed it on her teeth, bent to get a swig of water from the faucet, gargled, then spat the residue in the bowl.

Celeste, remembering the instruction from One Man, One Vote about announcing to strangers her reasons for being in the South, rinsed her hands under the warm water, splashed some on her face, and volunteered nothing. No way to know who might run straight to the local police, the Klan, or some other enemy. Too late she discovered the paper towel dispenser was empty, too. "You from Jackson?"

"Mound Bayou." The woman paused. "Ever hear of it?"

"No." Celeste stood there dripping.

"It's a all-colored town, north of here. Bolivar County. Ain't nothin' up there but a post office and a lot of mud. But it's ours."

Wouldn't be long before Detroit was an all-colored town, too, if you listened to Shuck and Momma Bessie. Shuck always had a story about some white business or another moving to the suburbs. Still, she thought, she might like to go to Mound Bayou, see it for herself. She'd never realized how Negro Detroit was until she arrived in nearly all-white Ann Arbor. She'd missed Detroit in her bones that first semester and ran home e...

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Book Description Surrey Books,U.S., United States, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. From award-winning actress Denise Nicholas: a ten-year anniversary reissue of her powerful and dramatic coming of age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Freshwater Road has been called one of the best novels written about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicholas herself has been praised repeatedly over the years for her beautiful prose and is continually mentioned along with Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines as the most important novelists documenting this era.When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she s assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.By summer s end, Celeste learns there are no easy answers to the questions that preoccupy her-about violence and nonviolence, about race, identity, and color, and about the strength of love and family bonds. In Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas has created an unforgettable story that-more than ten years after first appearing in print-continues to be one of the most cherished works of Civil Rights fiction. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781572841956

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Book Description Surrey Books,U.S., United States, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. From award-winning actress Denise Nicholas: a ten-year anniversary reissue of her powerful and dramatic coming of age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Freshwater Road has been called one of the best novels written about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicholas herself has been praised repeatedly over the years for her beautiful prose and is continually mentioned along with Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines as the most important novelists documenting this era.When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she s assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.By summer s end, Celeste learns there are no easy answers to the questions that preoccupy her-about violence and nonviolence, about race, identity, and color, and about the strength of love and family bonds. In Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas has created an unforgettable story that-more than ten years after first appearing in print-continues to be one of the most cherished works of Civil Rights fiction. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781572841956

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Book Description Surrey Books,U.S., United States, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. From award-winning actress Denise Nicholas: a ten-year anniversary reissue of her powerful and dramatic coming of age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Freshwater Road has been called one of the best novels written about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicholas herself has been praised repeatedly over the years for her beautiful prose and is continually mentioned along with Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines as the most important novelists documenting this era.When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she s assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.By summer s end, Celeste learns there are no easy answers to the questions that preoccupy her-about violence and nonviolence, about race, identity, and color, and about the strength of love and family bonds. In Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas has created an unforgettable story that-more than ten years after first appearing in print-continues to be one of the most cherished works of Civil Rights fiction. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9781572841956

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