Live Talks Los Angeles event:
Ethel Morgan Smith
discussing her book,
Path to Grace:
Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement
at Bergamot Arts Station
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Path to Grace is a personal history. A masterful re-envisioning. An intimate portrait of the civil rights movement through the eyes of the folks on the ground. The unsung heroes. This is their story, our story, and it is compelling and powerful and necessary. — Kwame Alexander
Ethel Morgan Smith is author of From Whence Cometh My Help: The African American Community at Hollins College and Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany. Her essay “Love Means Nothing” won the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Prize. “We Ready” was a finalist for the Jeanne M. Lieby Prize and was published in the Florida Review. She has also published in the New York Times, Callaloo,and African American Review. Smith has been a Fulbright Scholar (Universität of Tübingen, Germany); Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio, Italy); Visiting Artist (American Academy in Rome); and DuPont Fellow (Randolph Macon Women’s College).
Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her novel Some Luck was long-listed for the 2014 National Book Award. She has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper’s, and The Nation. Her most recent book is, The Questions That Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom
The civil rights movement is often defined narrowly, relegated to the 1950s and 1960s and populated by such colossal figures as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Many forget that the movement was bigger than the figures on the frontline and that it grew from intellectual and historical efforts that continue today. In Path to Grace: Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement, Ethel Morgan Smith shines light on unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, the ordinary citizens working behind the scenes to make an impact in their communities.
Through eleven original interviews with teachers, parents hosting fundraisers for civil right workers, volunteers helping with voter registration, and more, Smith highlights the contributions these figures made to the civil rights movement. Some of these brave warriors worked at the elbows of icons while others were clearing new paths, all passing through history without wide recognition. Path to Grace introduces readers to new witnesses and largely neglected voices. Also included are interviews with such esteemed but less studied figures as writer Gloria Naylor, poet Nikki Giovanni, fashion designer Ann Lowe, and educator Constance Curry.
This work of social change situates these narratives in both the past and present. Indeed, many of Smith’s subjects, such as Emma Bruce, John Canty, Andrea Lee, Ann Lowe, and Blanche Virginia Franklin Moore, can trace their ancestry back to enslavement, which provides a direct chain of narrators and firmly plants the roots of the civil rights movement in the country’s foundation. Through historical contextualization and an analysis of contemporary sociopolitical events, Path to Grace celebrates the contributions of some of the nameless individuals, generation after generation, who worked to make the United States better for all its citizens.