Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson
A True Story

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 18 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

"Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger."

Those words, whispered to ten-year-old Tim Tyson by one of his playmates in the late spring of 1970, heralded a firestorm that would forever transform the small tobacco market town of Oxford, North Carolina.

On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a 23-year-old black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel, a rough man with a criminal record and ties to the Ku Klux Klan, and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased Marrow, beat him unmercifully, and killed him in public as he pleaded for his life. In the words of a local prosecutor: "They shot him like you or I would kill a snake."

Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets, led by 22-year-old Ben Chavis, a future president of the NAACP. As mass protests crowded the town square, a cluster of returning Vietnam veterans organized what one termed "a military operation." While lawyers battled in the courthouse that summer in a drama that one termed "a Perry Mason kind of thing," the Ku Klux Klan raged in the shadows and black veterans torched the town's tobacco warehouses.

With large sections of the town in flames, Tyson's father, the pastor of Oxford's all-white Methodist church, pressed his congregation to widen their vision of humanity and pushed the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.

Years later, historian Tim Tyson returned to Oxford to ask Robert Teel why he and his sons had killed Henry Marrow. "That nigger committed suicide, coming in here wanting to four-letter-word my daughter-in-law," Teel explained.

The black radicals who burned much of Oxford also told Tim their stories. "It was like we had a cash register up there at the pool hall, just ringing up how much money we done cost these white people," one of them explained. "We knew if we cost 'em enough goddamn money they was gonna start changing some things."

In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, Blood Done Sign My Name is a classic work of conscience, a defining portrait of a time and place that we will never forget. Tim Tyson's riveting narrative of that fiery summer and one family's struggle to build bridges in a time of destruction brings gritty blues truth, soaring gospel vision, and down-home humor to our complex history, where violence and faith, courage and evil, despair and hope all mingle to illuminate America's enduring chasm of race.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Timothy B. Tyson

See more books from this Author
Timothy B. Tyson is a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His last book, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (UNC Press, 1999), won the James Rawley Prize and was co-winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize. "From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Broadway Books. 370 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Romance. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Blood Done Sign My Name

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

After several years of indulgence in drugs and general dissipation, the author decided to enroll in college: “And the first thing I did as a twenty-four-year-old freshman was to drive to Oxford, North Carolina, to ask Robert Teel why he’d killed Henry Marrow.” Tyson returned again as a graduate s...

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

He also artfully interweaves the history of race relations in the South, carefully and convincingly rejecting less complex and self-serving versions ("violence and nonviolence were both more ethically complicated—and more tightly intertwined—than they appeared in most media accounts and history b...

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Examiner

But sadly it was in full force and the new film, BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME recounts one small North Carolina society’s march and stand against hatred and injustice.

Feb 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Book Reporter

A founding member of the Chavis family had been a soldier in the American Revolution, a free black who was reputedly murdered by a white terrorist for the sin of teaching white and black children in the same classes.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

AV Club

See more reviews from this publication

In adapting the Timothy Tyson’s memoir Blood Done Sign My Name, which details the events surrounding the racially charged murder of an African-American Vietnam veteran in North Carolina in 1970, writer-director Jeb Stuart seems to have sought the most banal and commonplace elements, rather than f...

Feb 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Entertainment Weekly

When he was a third-grader in tiny Oxford, N.C., in the 1960s, Tim Tyson was faced with a choice.

May 21 2004 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

The Washington Post

In 1970 Henry Marrow, a black Vietnam veteran, is murdered by a local white man, Robert Teel, and his sons.

Feb 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

PopMatters

(Ricky seems to have seen his share of troubles, appearing bloated and a hell of a lot older than near-40.) Blood does have its share of wrenching moments, including, of course, Dickie’s murder, as well as a scene of a young black man acting unfathomably polite when Robert turns him down for a ha...

Feb 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Look At OKC

It is not surprising that Timothy Tyson's riveting, race-focused 2004 memoir "Blood Done Sign My Name" made it to the screen, although the man who brought it there might raise an eyebrow.

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Blogger News Network

But sadly it was in full force and the new film, BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME recounts one small North Carolina society’s march and stand against hatred and injustice.

Feb 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Spirituality & Practice

Although the civil rights movement is already ten years old, resulting in many changes in the lives of people elsewhere, it has bypassed this community where blacks outnumber whites yet have been kept in their place by Oxford's leaders.

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Project MUSE

Timothy Tyson's book about racial conflict in North Carolina is, in fact, a couple of things—both the account of a racially motivated killing in Oxford, NC, in 1970 and the story of one family's, and one young man's, coming to terms with race.

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Eurweb

Tim’s father (Ricky Schroder) was the pastor of Oxford’s lily-white Methodist church, and what makes the film compelling is the way in which the narration alternates back and forth between the perspectives of little Timmy and the increasingly emboldened Ben Chavis.

Feb 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Variety

The semiautobiographical book on which the film is based casts certain key moral scenes through the eyes of a dad-gazing child, the 10-year-old Tim Tyson (Gattlin Griffith), somewhat in the style of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” But director Stuart (co-writer of action pics including “Die Hard” and “T...

Feb 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Film School Rejects

An earnest, studiously straightforward message movie, Jeb Stuart’s Blood Done Sign My Name tries to get by on the strength of its performances and the writer-director’s able skirting of melodramatic clichés.

Feb 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Campus Circle

Not the great names, but the soldiers of the movement, like Ben Chavis, Vernon Tyson and the women of Oxford who stood up to incredible challenges to create change.” A story of the struggle to attain civil rights, Blood Done Sign My Name gets inside the passion of race relations in America, and...

Feb 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Voice Of North Carolina

In the first half hour of the movie, which is based on true events that occurred in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970, the character of Rev.

Mar 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

American Diplomacy

Set in his hometown of Oxford, North Carolina, Tyson chronicles the events following the public murder of Henry Marrow, a black Vietnam veteran.

| Read Full Review of Blood Done Sign My Name: A Tr...

Reader Rating for Blood Done Sign My Name
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 107 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×