Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's
African American Studies - Texas History
6 x 8.5, 208 pp.
3 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 08/01/1996
Wardlaw Books
  cloth
Price:        $19.95

978-0-89096-716-4
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Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's

By Sunny Nash

Bigmama didn't shop at Woolworth's. It wasn't because Woolworth's charged more for things than the hawker who drove through the neighborhood; it was because black shoppers were not welcome in stores on the Main Streets of towns like Bryan, Texas.

Bigmama was Sunny Nash's grandmother, and when Sunny was growing up in the 1950s, she learned from her elders what life was and should be. Through her own young eyes, she saw not only the indignities and economic hardships her family and friends suffered—unpaved roads, mosquito-infested ditches and outdoor toilets, back stairs to balcony seating in the movies—but also the love and warmth of everyday life in Candy Hill, a segregated neighborhood.

In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, but with the power of real-life perspective, Sunny Nash tells her pre–civil rights story with immediacy and poignancy. For those familiar with the restrictions of the segregated South, Nash also shares the secret of surviving with spirit intact: the ordinary and special moments of her family, friends, and herself in Candy Hill; how they tolerated and overcame prejudices; how they dealt with daily obstacles in earning a living, receiving an education, voting, and purchasing property; and what they learned from one another.

In this valuable contribution to Texas and its racial history, Nash fills the book with powerful vignettes that provide insight into this time of segregation and change.

Sunny Nash is an award-winning writer, exhibiting photographer, and television producer living in Long Beach, California. Her newspaper articles and photographs are in the archives of the Houston Public Library, the John F. Kennedy Library, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian Institution. She has written for Texas, the Sunday magazine of the Houston Chronicle.

What Readers Are Saying:

“It is poignant and hurtful, as I think it should be. . . . The writing is vivid, colorful, and compelling."--Dr. Jim Corder

"It is at once touching, poignant, and unsettling in its gritty awareness of life's harsh truths that show through at unexpected moments. Sunny Nash the child presents us with a determined, defiant figure we like and enjoy, one with whom we sympathize. . . . this is her life, one of racism and poverty, softened by the people who care for her." --Ken Hammond

"What Nash does best is open a window on a neighborhood where heroism was often a matter of just getting by." --Publishers Weekly

“. . . Her writing is engaging, her family interesting, especially her remarkable, part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, who taught Nash how to overcome adversity. Nash tells a story of the wrongs of racial prejudice familiar to anyone who lived through the times she describes; but as those times recede into the past it is good to have them recorded for posterity. . . .” --Library Journal

“. . . brings to life underlying ideas and ethical precepts that are energetically presented in an engaging read from the beginning to the satisfying conclusion. . .” --Nashville Pride

“. . . she pays attention to life’s footnotes, those often-forgotten details that get shuffled to the back of people’s minds to be soon forgotten. . . . Those minor incidents are the gist of Nash’s work and a bountiful resource of material. . . .” --Long Beach Press-Telegram

“Sunny Nash preached a powerful sermon without sounding preachy. She captures the strength, weaknesses, humor and shrewdness of a people dealing with prejudice, obstacles to making a living, getting an education, voting and purchasing property.” --Amarillo News-Globe

“Through a series of vignettes, she describes her and her neighbors’ struggles against segregation. This is much more than a story of pain and injustice, however. Nash paints a rich portrait of daily life in the black, rural South.” --Journal of Women’s History

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