One of my questions about The Great Migration always had to do with time. Why wait fifty years after the Civil War to leave their homes in the South for better opportunities? Scholars of The Great Migration point out that there had to be a perfect storm of agricultural failure via the boll weevil, the beginnings of World War I and the increase in manufacturing technology before people began to move in great waves in 1915 from the South. All of this is true. But still, after having been enslaved for so many years, it is clear that the African Americans who lived in the South also felt a tie and a kinship to their homeland and maybe hoped for a while that their lives would be better.
That’s where the inspiration for my new series came from. As soon as the Civil War ended, many free African Americans who lived in the North came to the South to help the formerly enslaved population improve their lives. My heroine in The Preacher’s Promise, is based on inspirational women like Fanny Jackson Coppin who made a point of devoting her teaching career to helping the newly freed slaves attain the literacy they needed to function in society.
Other brave souls, like Blanche V. Harris, traveled to the southern states to live, teach and run freedom schools for various missionary societies. These teachers made it their life’s work to help the recently enslaved population. And things went well enough for a few years. However, it was too much change all for some of the population. Once Reconstruction ended in 1877 and up to 1915, life for African Americans in the South was very difficult, but those few years right after the Civil War was a sneak peek to what might be possible if African Americans were permitted to fully join society. So The Preacher’s Promise takes place in 1866 when Amanda and Virgil first meet. To see the first chapter, posted as part of Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest, follow the link:
If you like it, please leave a comment at the end of the story.
And don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned the Bledsoe sisters. I’m still working on getting their stories out there!