Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
Sunny Nash
"In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, but more stirring because of its real-life perspective, she (Nash) tells her story of a time before the Civil Rights Movement with immediacy and poignancy."

Two women with very different backgrounds, one black and one white, Sunny Nash and Harper Lee, grew up in different decades in the United States of America, and both experienced Jim Crows laws that dictated the behavior of Americans in their everyday lives before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King   headed the journey from Jim Crow and led the nation into the Civil Rights Movement. 

However, they both write a message of understanding of race relations as those issues related to the times of their lives and families and some that still apply in today's world of computers and social media. Sunny Nash and Harper Lee tell their stories from their own perspectives.

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel is about Atticus Fincha white southern attorney, whose defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman during the era of Jim Crow laws when such accusations were common in the United States. The era of Jim Crow laws spanned roughly from about 1867 at the end of Reconstruction after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

To Kill a Mockingbird, told through the voice of Scout, Atticus' young daughter, recalls a time in the recent past when racism and morals were intertwined in such a way that truth was not recognizable. At that time, the emphasis was on the protection of white womanhood against the perceived dangers that black men posed. In reality, the reverse was true. African American women were the real victims in most instances with rape and lynching, which was the primary method used to control the economic status of many black communities around the nation. 

Before Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was an expert investigator in cases of rape and lynching of black women in Jim Crow Alabama. Parks was also responsible for changes in black Hollywood and the portrayals of black women in the movies and on television, which had been restricted to servants to white families, demonstrated in the a recent movie, The Help. In fact, the Finch family in To Kill a Mockingbird had a house servant, Calpurnia, whose role was minimal, except for housekeeping and nanny duties.

Bigmama Didn't Shop  at Woolworth's   by Sunny Nash
Bigmama Didn't Shop 
at Woolworth's  
by Sunny Nash
Harper Lee's account of the life and experiences of a little girl in To Kill A Mockingbird is fictional but portrays real life as the people of her town lived it in the Deep South in the 1930s when the nation was filled with children of the Great Depression. To make life in America worse, the lives of many families were being complicated by migrations west to avoid the perils of poverty brought on by the Dust Bowl

My account of the life and experiences of a little girl in Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's is nonfiction and portrays my own real life and the lives the people who populated my world. When I was growing up, there was Hollywood and there was black Hollywood and they seldom intersected. In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, however, the two worlds collided on the page and the screen in a way that affected me deeply for the rest of my life.

Harper Lee struck a nerve in mid-century America with her story that was set in the Jim Crow 1930s Deep South, a period being played out during my childhood when Rosa Parks was leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. Those days were lingering as I entered adulthood and prepared to make my own way in the world. Lee's book came into my possession when it was new. My mother, who bought books on a regular basis, bought the book for my birthday. When the movie came out, my mother took me to see it. Then we discussed the subject in detail. That was the beginning of my interest on writing about race relations in America, eventually leading to my own book, Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's.

"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Buy Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's  by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn't Shop
At Woolworth's
by Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother before the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow laws. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.  

Sunny Nash--author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations in--writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking, Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life--from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women's issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements--past and present—to today's post-racism. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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Monday, June 11, 2012

What's Blues Got To Do With IT?

Sunny Nash--author, journalist and former Brunswick recording artist--took the downtown Palace Amphitheatre Stage at the first Bryan Texas Blues Festival.

I didn't know if I still had IT! You know what IT is? That stuff that makes you good at something. I guess I do still have IT!  Because a lot of people seemed to enjoy my IT on stage at the Bryan Texas Blues Festival. The important thing is that people enjoyed my performance and I enjoyed performing the music. Many old musician friends and fans came out. In fact, two of the best bass players in the country--Rick Moses and Brian Lippman--both of whom I have had the privilege of making music, came backstage after my performances, and so many others. It was great seeing everyone again. I thank each and everyone of you for your support back in the day and to this new day.

Let's do it again next year. But just for fun like this time. The music industry was good to me but at this point in my life I have nothing more to prove on that front. Writing books is my IT these days. Search in the box below to find my Web Sites, Blogs and other literary areas. In fact, I hope you will join this Blog to get my updates, or subscribe to my feeds on face book. Thanks for your devotion and loyalty over the past years and in the future. 

Hats off to the City of Bryan, Texas!
Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash, Jeff Zwolinski
Sunny Nash
Jeff Zwolinski, Drummer
Bryan Texas Blues Festival
Sunny Nash began her music career learning to play the blues and other forms of music when she met Houston’s KYOK radio celebrity and media personality, George Nelson, who presented her a scholarship for winning the Miss Texas High Contest in 1965; she was a sophomore in high school. For the talent portion of the competition, she sang a medley of the 1964 R&B Motown hit, Every Little Bit Hurts, by Brenda Holloway; and the jazz standard, Misty, written by pianist, Erroll Garner in 1954.

After winning the contest, I sang those songs on television shows and was interviewed on radio.

"I learned to sing all kinds of music--blues, R&B, gospel, pop, country and classical--from listening to records and the radio," Nash said. "Then later, I took piano lessons and learned to read sheet music, and started playing piano by ear." Nash listened to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Nancy Wilson and Frank Sinatra to learn to sing jazz and blues

"It was all about phrasing and timing," Nash said. "How to group the words of the song, emphasis and finesse. I learned that singers do not have to sing every note they know to perform the song well. In fact, singing too many notes sounds like you are just showing off everything you know and not really making the point of the song."

During the summer of 1966, George Nelson booked Nash to sing jazz and blues songs live on KYOK broadcasts with the Conrad Johnson Orchestra at the El Dorado Ballroom on Elgin Street in Houston’s Third Ward. Although she was only 16, her jazz and blues performances were reviewed in newspapers as mature and moving. Nash also performed at Ray Barnett's Cinder Club with John Roberts and the Hurricanes, getting the attention of Don Robey at Duke-Peacock Records. "George told my mother not to sign me up with Robey because that bunch was too rough for a little girl or a grown woman or man!"

Nash also hung out at radio stations a lot, learning from DJs how to spin records and talk trash, she said. While performing in Houston, Nash shared stages with blued-eyed soul singer, Roy Head, and R&B teen group, Archie Bell & the Drells, discovered by Skipper Lee Fraiser, legendary Houston DJ at KCOH, the first black radio station in Texas. "George and Skipper Lee were both very protective of the young acts in their charge."

In 1967, KTSA radio celebrity, Ricci Ware, saw Nash in a talent show he was hosting in Bryan. 

"I had borrowed Washington School Principal Oliver Sadberry's reel-to-reel tape recorder and laid the track that I sang to in the talent show," Nash said. "I didn't really know what I was doing. But I knew what I wanted the music to sound like; and my best friend and Miss Texas High Contest accompanist, Raymond Buchanan, two years older than me, was gone off to fight in Vietnam. So I played Moon River over and over into Mr. Sadberry's little reel-to-reel tape recorder until I had what I wanted as my accompaniment. It wasn't as good as Raymond would have played it, but it sounded pretty good. When the judge announced me, he made a big deal of my music track and treated it as part of my talent act. Ricci Ware thought it was pretty good, too, and arranged an audition at Abe Epstein Enterprises in San Antonio to work as a studio musician, background vocalist and label recording artist after I graduated later that Spring."

Repetition of the same music passages over and over again was the key to getting it to sound the way I wanted it.

In 1968, Epstein released Nash's country blues recording, I Am Nothing Without You, written by Ricky "Güero Polkas" Davila, then a songwriter for Epstein Studios and also a DJ at San Antonio's Radio Jalapeno, KEDA 1540 AM, the nation's only conjunto radio station, which Davila's family has owned since 1966, important players in the music industry in San Antonio. Playing a mix of rock, soul, conjunto, Tejano, R&B and oldies, Davila became the legendary KEDA voice 44 years ago, shortly after which, the song he wrote for Nash created for the young singer a Gulf Coast sensation from Texas to Florida, where she sang a mix of blues, country and Tejano music.

Abe Epstein
Nash's ability to use her speaking voice on microphone, play piano, overdub her own singing voice using recording equipment and her general interest in the recording business increased her value to the studio. From Epstein, Nash learned the technology of the era in music and audio production, and sound engineering. 

"At the studio, I also helped write, voice-over and produce radio commercials for local stations," Nash said. "Abe had a 4-track studio. Four-track recording may sound simple when compared to infinite digital track recording today, but recording complex mixtures of music was very complicated at that time. Mostly every session had to be perfect. And there was little or no overdubbing in the recording industry at the time. This was during a time when track recording on analog tape was still in its infancy."

From Epstein, Nash also began learning the sound recording business, setting up amplifiers, microphones, mixers and speakers at performances. "I strung wire with the guys in the band and picked up most anything that wasn't heavier than me, which was most everything," Nash said. "I wanted to learn everything about the music business and I did. I can set up mics, mixers, amps, lights, screens, projectors, cameras and all kinds of event and staging equipment. I even built my own video studio with sound. I like doing that kind of thing, knowing one kind of plug from another. And now, with the Internet, I'm having a blast!"

When Nash's contract with Epstein ended, she returned to Houston, where she worked as a studio musician and technician, formed a band, played local nightclubs and appeared often on the television show, Dialing for Dollars, with pianist, Paul Schmidt, who had pioneered early television in Houston. “I was fortunate to have a chance to work on television with Paul Schmidt,” Nash said. “It wasn't often that black artists got chances like that in 1971. And Paul, who was not opposed to working with young black artists, was one of the best pianists in the country, having played and recorded with Arnett Cobb, Pearl Bailey. Jimmy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and most anybody else who was anybody in the music business. One of the most important things I learned from Paul was to leave ego at the door. He wasn't interested in working with Divas or anyone else who thought they were too gifted and precious to work hard.”

The Third Movement by Sunni Nash
In Houston, Nash arranged music for other performers, laid original music tracks for those who could not play an instrument and began writing songs of her own. In 1971, Nash went to New York and auditioned for Brunswick Records. They signed Nash to a contract as a studio musician and songwriter. With Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly soundtrack trio, headed by drummer, Quinten Joseph, Nash co-wrote and recorded The Third Movement and released it on BRC, reserving its Brunswick brand for stars like Jackie Wilson, the Chi-Lites, Barbara Aklin, Tyrone Davis, Laverne Baker and other proven money makers.  Well, The Third Movement now has a new generation of worldwide Internet cult followers of old-school, deep funk. Who would have guessed?

After a successful career in music, Nash decided she'd had enough. "I was tired of living on the road out of suitcases or sitting around studios all day waiting for a session to start, although the money was really good," Nash said. "When you are changing the course of your life and career, you have to be careful not to waste time. You have to know what to do before it's too late to act or you lose your enthusiasm for something like going to school. I wanted a real life and a solid profession that I would not mind my child following, the same example of great mothering my own mother had set for me."

Using her voice, love for radio, production skills and knowledge of electronics from her old recording studio days and music-making nights on the stage, Nash became the area’s first black radio professional for mainstream audiences in her groundbreaking position as radio news reporter on WTAW Country in 1974. "Bill Watkins heard some commercials I'd recorded for Radio Shack and said, 'I want that voice on this station! Who is that!' When he found out who I was, he called and offered me a job. He didn't know or care that I was black. When we did meet, Bill did not take a second glance at me when he pushed a tape recorder into my hands and told me what time the College Station City Council met later that day," Nash said. "I learned a lot from Bill and the job helped me pay for school, get some real news credentials and get very connected in the community."

While attending Texas A&M, Nash performed on stage in Houston and locally to supplement her income, and she wrote and recorded commercials for local radio productions and political campaigns. As time passed, the local television market began opening up to African American talent and Nash became the first black spokes-model in Bryan for Star Tel Communications. "I had a commercial that ran during Super Bowl back in the 1970s," Nash said.

In 1977, Nash became one of the first African American women to graduate from Texas A&M University, and the first African American to earn a degree in journalism and broadcasting from the University. "I was among the first dozen black women to graduate from Texas A&M University," Nash said. "The first one that I know of was in 1970, the same year as the first Hispanic female graduate. Women of color have been at A&M since the day the doors were opened to us."

With her brand new journalism degree, Nash took her second groundbreaking position, Program Director at National Public Radio (NPR)-affiliated KAMU-FM. "While at KAMU-FM, I helped develop the classical format and produced a number of news items for the NPR program, All Things Considered. I also reported the weather one summer for our sister station, KAMU-TV, until they hired weatherman, Bob Rose. Until he came on board, I was the only person on staff who had taken a course in meteorology and physical geography. I knew the states by shape, a requirement because newsroom weather maps have no labels. Then I figured out how to translate National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) dot-matrix printouts to the weather map in the newsroom. I cheated a little by checking the weather maps on other channels to make sure I was close. This was eons before the National Weather Service had Doppler. I was really glad when Bob took over."

Nash said her love for writing was not enough. "I needed to learn how to make a living writing," she said. "It was a lot different from the music industry, although, it takes the same discipline to be a successful writer or successful musician. Discipline and developing good habits are keys to any success in life, as far as I am concerned. And do not wait for a visit from the muse for your inspiration. Sit down every day in front of your keyboard and play or write. That's all the inspiration you will ever need."

I Can See Clearly Now
In 1978, Nash went to the British Isles with Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now tour as a vocalist, keyboardist, percussionist and dancer, working with Marvin Gaye’s music director and songwriting partner, Odell Brown. "I was not trying to resurrect my music career," Nash said. "I went as a favor to Johnny. His regular stage candy was not available."

During the 1980s, Nash wrote for magazines and newspapers, became a photographer and producer, and learned graphic design. In 1990, Nash wrote, produced and scored a University of Texas film, We Have Something To Say, nominated for a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and placed in the John F. Kennedy Library. The theme song that resulted from the film won Nash a People’s Sammy Davis Nomination for Songwriting.

We Have Something to Say
A Film by Sunny Nash 
University of Texas Health Science Center UTTV
How Children with Physical and Mental Challenges Overcome Learning Difficulties

Blues Festival
“People often ask me if I still sing," Nash said. "What a loaded question. Are they asking if I can still sing? Are they asking do I still sing professionally? I tell them, yes, I still sing. I came into the world singing. I sang before I wrote one word or took one picture or produced one video. My heart sings even when my lips are not moving. My heart has its own tunes, tunes that keep me wanting to move, wanting to live. I don't make a living at music anymore, but, yes, I still sing. Music keeps me living."

Nash was followed by William Walker, Damu Sudi Alii, Donald Ray Johnson and Nat Dove. Eugene Eugene & the Solid Foundation Band, will accompany the performers.

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash
Bigmama Didn't Shop
At Woolworth's

by Sunny Nash
The African American
National Biography

Harvard & Oxford
Sunny Nash became a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for Hearst, Knight-Ridder and Black Conscious; music historian and critic with jazz and blues profiles in the  The African American National Biography: Eight-volume set  (Harvard and Oxford 2008); and a world-renown photographer with images in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York and the Houston Public Library.

Sunny Nash is author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses for contributions to understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American Collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.

© 2012 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sunny Nash Nonfiction Book Honored

Award-winning book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash honored.

Sunny Nash, Author,  Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's
Sunny Nash, Author,
Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's

The Brazos Valley African American Museum (BVAAM) unveiled inscribed copies and an exhibition representing Sunny Nash's book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s (Texas A&M University Press). The museum occupies the former site of Booker T. Washington Elementary School, the school Nash attended near her Candy Hill neighborhood.

Sunny Nash, one of the first black female graduates of Texas A&M University, attended Bryan Independent Schools. 

Nash's book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, is also honored by the Association of American University Presses as an educational tool for understanding U.S. race relations. The museum exhibit of the book, which incorporates Nash's career accomplishments and education, is designed as a traveling trunk presentation available to area schools as a tool for understanding local history.

“Everything comes full circle, it seems,” said Nash, one of the first black female graduates of Texas A&M University (’77). "I took what I learned in Bryan schools out into the world. And, to this day, those life lessons are still relevant."

In her book, Nash writes about life lessons through her childhood reflections--some happy, some unforgivable, others unfortunate but all unforgettable. Written as a series of vignettes, which first appeared in her newspaper column in the Bryan-College Station Eagle in the 1990s, Nash's book provides an intimate peek into the life a young African American girl growing up under Jim Crow laws with an uncertainty as to what her life possibilities could be and tackles themes about simply growing up and becoming an adult human being.

"I learned at home, first, and then at school," Nash said, "that most things worth having do not come easily. Even if you think you have the talent for something like writing, you still must work at making something of that talent. Nothing works if you don't work hard at it."
Bigmama Didn't shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash
Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's 
by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's is built around Nash's life with her part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, who lived in the home with her and her parents and had a significant influence on Nash's childhood. But Nash also tells other poignant stories about everyday struggles in American society before and during the Civil Rights Movement. This examination of race relations in America and U.S. civil rights history, told from a young child's experience, earned Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's recognition by the Association of American University Presses in New York for its contribution to the understanding of U.S. race relations. Listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's is also recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting, but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world."

Willie & Mell Pruitt Museum Founders BVAAM & AANHS
Willie & Mell Pruitt
In 1999, Nash’s teachers Willie Pruitt and his wife, the late Mell Pruitt, founded the African American National Heritage Society (AANHS) to raise funds to build BVAAM to house objects, photographs documents and African-American memorabilia the couple had assembled for more than a half century, and books like their student, Sunny Nash's Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’sBVAAM has since become a collector and national narrator for African-American life, also preserving and sharing local history through artifacts, historical reports, family legacies, genealogical records, oral and video accounts, educational resources, lectures, workshops, traveling exhibitions, live performing arts productions, concerts and presentations.
Brazos Valley African American Museum
Brazos Valley African American Museum
500 East Pruitt Street, Bryan, Texas

Brazos Valley African American Museum, a hands-on, community-based facility, opened in 2006, and continues to welcome pledges, grants, endowed funds, donations and in-kind contributions. The Museum invites the public to explore acquisitions and a variety of curriculum-based trunks, which are available to check out by school programs, a use for which Nash's exhibit is designed. Area school libraries acquired Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s when it was first released and, at this time, could easily incorporate the exhibit into classroom reading and research projects or school-based essay programs.

"Schools in Midland-Odessa, Texas, and  Long Beach and Huntington Beach, California, have used my book in a similar fashion across a wide range of grades and ages," Nash said. "I was invited to speak to more than 10,000 students from grades K-12 on a book tour of the the Permian Basin. My book is also used at the University of Texas in courses on the history of diversity."

Find out more about Sunny Nash, museums and anything else.
Sunny Nash's Eagle Column, 'Yesterdays'
Bryan-College Station Eagle
Sunny Nash's Column, "Yesterdays"
Thursday, January 7. 1993
"Diane Bowen, who was an editor at the Bryan-College Station Eagle at that time, recruited me to write my first column, having read my work in literary collections," Nash said. "Diane and our readers particularly like the Bigmama stories and asked for more articles about my life with Bigmama. I also included a host of other relatives and interesting characters that floated through my childhood and wove in the history of the Brazos Valley." One article from the Eagle and also included in Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, is When the Healer Came to Town.

As Nash did with every opportunity she ever got, she took the Eagle opportunity to the next level, using it to expand to the Houston Chronicle, convincing the publisher at that time, Tony Pederson, that she could attract newspaper readers from the Brazos Valley through her column there. "I had to wear down folks at the Chronicle with my persistence because they didn't know me. I had no connections, no one to escort me through the door or represent me. Two things helped me--my journalism degree from Texas A&M University and my Eagle column."

Sunny Nash's Column, Yesterdays
Sunny Nash Wins Houston Essay Prize
The Magazine of  the Houston Post

Special Edition
December 28, 1986

Nash convinced Pederson to examine her portfolio of Eagle articles and other published work, which included an essay about a bi-racial city slicker, whose ancestors migrated to Houston from a Louisiana plantation where they had lived under the Jim Crow system for 30 years after emancipation. Nash's essay won First Prize in the Houston Public Library Literary Competition and was published in a special issue of the Sunday Magazine of the Houston PostAfter reading my materials and reviewing my print and broadcast news credentials, Tony agreed to give me a chance," Nash said. Nash was assigned to the editor of the State Lines section of the newspaper, Ken Hammond, who decided to have her communicate to readers how she found her way in the racial maze into which she had been born.

"'Inspire people,' Ken told me. 'But give it to them straight. Don't preach! Be a reporter of facts, but weave in some emotion and try to leave people on a Sunday morning feeling better about their lives and the world. Give them hope, don't talk down them, keep it fresh, make them feel the sun and wind on their skin, bring tears to their eyes, make them laugh and continue to tell your story in your little girl voice,' he said.' I like that from your Eagle articles. By the way, I need three times as many words as your Eagle articles.'"

"I went silent for a long while," Nash said, wondering how she was supposed to do all of that in 1500 words or less. "I guess I saw my life flashing before my eyes--what my life could be if I did a good job and what my life would be if I didn't. Finally, I said. That's big. 'Well, that's your assignment,' Ken said.'"
A Mission Completed for Doll by Sunny Nash
A Mission Completed for Doll
by Sunny Nash Houston Chronicle 

State Lines July 15, 1990
"I knew enough about life to realize I would probably only have one chance to show what I could do. Thousands of other writers were out there vying for a spot, wanting that chance as much as I did. So, I knew I had to produce the best story and copy possible." 

The story Nash presented to Hammond was about her cousin, whom they called Doll, whose death in 1954 caused officials in a segregated school district in a nearby small town to close the school because there were not enough black students in the school, only four after Doll's death, to justify keeping the school open. "The significance of this story," Nash said, "was it's connection to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v the Board of Education."

Custom Search here for more on Brown and anything else.

State Lines, Collection Houston Chronicle
State LinesCollection
Houston Chronicle 

A Mission Completed for Doll, Nash's first article in the Houston Chronicle Sunday Magazine column, State Lines, earned Nash a contract with Hearst Newspapers, a place among Houston Chronicle contributors, prestige in her profession and attention from publishers, agents and readers.

Over the years, Hammond worked with Nash in her approach to the sensitive topics of race relations in America, helping her to maintain a very personal voice of a young child growing up during those tumultuous times of Jim Crow laws in America and encouraging her to write with an intimacy to reveal a rich life experience far beyond the ordinary.

"Ken Hammond is a great editor," Nash said. "He demanded that I make him feel what I felt, smell what I smelled, hear what I heard, and see things the way I saw them," Nash said. "It didn't matter to him that I was speaking in the voice of a little black girl and he was reading with the mind of a middle-age white man. Ken said the challenge to me was to grasp the empathy of or, at least, reach an understanding with readers of far different experiences than mine. 'If you can make me feel your pain or whatever,' Ken advised. 'Then you have a chance of making readers feel it, too.'" Hammond selected Nash's essay, A Mission Completed for Doll, to be published in his own book, State Lines, a collection of the best essays published in the Houston Chronicle's State Lines column. "Ken Hammond as my editor caused me to grow from a writer into an artist." 

Sell Your Book, Script or Column:
How to Write a Winning Query and Mak
(Google Affiliate Ad)
During Nash's several years with Knight-Ridder's Bryan-College Station Eagle, after she was already writing for the Chronicle, her little Eagle column was picked up by Clyde Davis at Black Conscience Syndication in New York, exposing her to a national audience. "Clyde mailed me a sack of letters weekly from people all over the country--Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, New Hampshire, St. Louis, California and other places," Nash said. "My mother and her friends clipped articles weekly and helped me answer all the letters. Some of those contacts got me invited to speak to organizations at elegant functions, paid generously and treated very nicely. "Oh, that's what being a syndicated columnist means," Nash's mother said to her once when she was home for a visit.

Cities, Mayors, and Race Relations:
Task Forces as Agents of Race-Base
(Google Affiliate Ad)
"I was becoming quite the celebrity," Nash said, "when, Mary Lenn Dixon, managing editor at Texas A&M University Press, asked me to meet with her and the director of the Press. They offered me a contract for a book of my published essays from the Eagle and Chronicle. I did not hesitate and Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s was born. Well, it took a lot of work but I enjoy the work. It's like a journey. There's so much to see along the way, so much to learn and, at the end, a reward, but mostly there are plans for a new journey--a book tour, promotional campaign, public speaking engagements or my favorite, another book. It has taken awhile to finish the book I am currently working on, but I intend to hand over the manuscript to Mary Lenn this summer."

Along with Nash's grandmother and parents, Nash credits in her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’sthe Pruitt's and others for their roles in helping to shape her life. She also writes about many of these people in her popular blog, Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America, based on her book. Nash covers U.S. race relations through topics relating to her childhood and adult life that include Jim Crow laws, education, employment, food, music, film, radio, television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, media, sports, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, civil rights history, and social and political movements–past and present–in a way that does not inflame, but informs. Sunny Nash lives in Southern California.

© 2012 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America