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Mildred D. Taylor - BIOGRAPHY
Mildred Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi on September 13, 1943 but grew up in Toledo, Ohio where her father had gone to find work. She attended the University of Toledo and spent two years in Ethiopia working with the Peace Corp. She then attended the University of Colorado where she received a Master’s degree in journalism and was active in the Black Student Alliance.
In addition to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (first published in 1976), Taylor has written Song of the Trees which was named a New York Times Outstanding Book of the year 1975, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis and The Well. All five books continue the story of the Logan family. Roll of Thunder was produced as a three part television mini series in 1978. Let the Circle Be Unbroken, received a 1981 American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults award as well as a 1982 American Book Award nominee in the hardcover fiction category, and the winner of a Coretta Scott King Award in 1982. The Road to Memphis and her book The Gold Cadillac both received Christopher Awards.
Taylor derives much of her inspiration from stories told in her own family, stories often recited on trips to “the South” to visit her grandparents who had remained in Mississippi. The stories contradicted the information presented in the history books. Taylor says, “Those stories about the small and often dangerous triumphs of black people . . . about human pride and survival in a cruelly racist society were like nothing I read in the history books.
. . . There were no black heroes or heroines in those books; no beautiful black ladies, no handsome black men; no people filled with pride, strength, or endurance. . . [The books told] a history of a docile, subservient people happy with their fate who did little or nothing to shatter the chains that bound them, both before and after slavery. There was obviously a terrible contradiction between what the books said and what I had learned from my family."
These contradictions create the themes for Taylor’s books.
Her novels include:
Song of the Trees (1975)
Notable Book Citation, American Library Association, 1976