Speak Right On

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About the author:
Mary Neighbour always loved to read, and she studied literature and creative writing in college and psychoanalytic psychotherapy after that, doing a short stint as a therapist before returning to writing.

She wrote in technical fields until 1994, when she began her own business: interviewing individuals and writing their memoirs, family histories, and organizational histories. Having authored two dozen such books, Mary developed an ear for first-person narrative and an abiding interest in depicting the fully-lived experiences of a past era that remain relevant today.

Prior to Speak Right On, Mary wrote poems, short stories, and-always-a private journal. Her short fiction has won awards and been recognized by the Sacramento Public Library, ByLine Magazine, the Mid-American Review, the Alligator Juniper magazine, as well as the Whidbey Island Writers' Association. Her story "Gray" won the 2009 William Van Wert Short Fiction Award.

Speak Right On is Mary Neighbour's first and only novel. The Pacific Northwest Writers' Association honored it in 2004 for being among the best unpublished first novels. In 2006 it found an enthusiastic publisher in Matthew Miller, of The Toby Press (now Koren Publishers, Jerusalem). The novel and Mary's writing received a good deal of praise from major review publications as well as individual readers. In 2008, rights reverted back to the author.
In the nearly ten years since Speak Right On was published, Mary has watched as society challenges the civil rights gains of the mid-twentieth century. Believing the maxim, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," she is taking that advice to heart and speaking out, beginning with re-releasing Speak Right On, with a new foreword by Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Harriet and Dred Scott

Speak Right On

Conjuring the Slave Narrative of Dred Scott

Authored by Mary E. Neighbour
Foreword by Lynne M. Jackson
Edition: 2

How does a destitute, illiterate, enslaved man manage to bring his plea for freedom before the US Supreme Court? Speak Right On, a work of historical fiction, delves beneath the obvious answer-white friends who financed and encouraged Dred Scott's struggles-to the core truth: Scott's own powers of persuasion and storytelling. His great talent is to redraw his world. His portraits are colored with fables, folklore, and the fabulous history of his kin. His narrative encompasses ghost stories and love epics; memoirs and dreamscapes; a medical guide and a travel journal; and ultimately, a legal record that no history can ignore.

Born a plantation slave in 1800, Dred is shielded in childhood by Gran, but not even Gran can protect him from the relentless losses and degradations slavery will exact. In 1846, when a new mistress threatens the unity of his family, Dred begins his undaunted pursuit of freedom under the doctrine "once free, always free." His court case survives tortuous defeats and challenges until the US Supreme Court declares in 1857 that the Scotts have no rights that society is obliged to respect. They are property.

The decision is shattering, but it cannot shake Dred's resolve to protect his family and keep them together. How he and his wife, Harriet, manage to achieve their goals rounds out this incredible story.
Dred's final days are spent as a porter at a St. Louis hotel. Guests of the hotel and people just passing through town stop to congregate in the hotel lobby to hear the griot conjure his tales. He carries his history, not the bags of guests. His strength is opening new possibilities for tomorrow, not hotel doors. He crafts stories where honesty can breathe, get up from its confinement, discover its legs are still sturdy, and walk about freely.

Dred Scott is a man who insisted on telling his own story, on speaking freely; who journeyed to define his own truth; who cried out to share it with all who would listen. That was his freedom, and he didn't require a court to help him find it.

Publication Date:
0996254102 / 9780996254106
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Literary

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