I received my Ph.D. in modern U.S. History and African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. My primary adviser, mentor and friend there was Tim Tyson, one of the great Movement historians of our time. Tim taught me a lot about being a scholar and an activist, about being a storyteller, about being a citizen. The research I conducted for my M.A. thesis, which was titled, "'Communist Front Shouts Kissing Case to the World!' The Committee to Combat Racial Injustice and the Politics of Race and Gender during the Cold War," became a part of one of the chapters in Tim's first book, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power. His second book, Blood Done Sign My Name, is part Movement history, part autobiography. It focuses on the murder of an African American Vietnam veteran in Oxford, North Carolina, during the early-1970s and the social impact of that event on the local community and beyond. Tim's family participated directly in this saga. The incredible thing about this award-winning book is that it is also a personal meditation on race, remembrance and, ultimately, reconciliation. What do we do with these troubling pasts once we unearth them? How do we honor the past, while moving forward into the future... together?
Blood Done Sign My Name has been made into a feature film, starring Rick Schroeder as Tim's dad! Here is the official trailer:
It is rare that this type of story makes it to the big-screen, so I hope you will check it out. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Go see it.
2. Ask your local independent cinema theater to book it.
3. Help spread the word to other folks in your networks.
Here is another clip of Tim talking about the film:
And here is the song, "Blood Done Sign My Name":