This story spans half a century. There are hundreds of people who have influenced me and steered me toward choices I have made, thus contributing to the story. Only a few can be acknowledged here.

I need to mention my teachers: the amateurs—my grandmothers, to whom the book is dedicated, and my step-grandfather, Roger Whitaker; and the professional ones—from Roberta Stanley and Gladys Secord in grade school to professors Drs. Earl Gossett, Roy Wells, Barbara Lester, Sam Stayer, and Nancy Campbell at Birmingham-Southern College. All of them are part of the story.

For their help in the preparation of this book, my heartfelt thanks go first to Joni, my partner and friend, whose help with research and photography made it all possible; to the staff of the archives department of the Birmingham Public Library, Dr. Marvin Y. Whiting, Don Veasey, and James Baggett; to Birmingham Post-Herald reporter Kathy Kemp for her encouragement and critique; to the Reverend Christopher Hamlin, pastor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, whose kindness and helpfulness have been both enabling and inspirational; and to photographer Keith Boyer.

I feel a debt of thanks to my son, James Robin Hood, who though not a chip off the old block is a hero in his own right.

Also, deep bows and kudos to the staff at Crane Hill Publishers: new mother Catherine O’Hare; the gentle, smiling, and always helpful Kim Cox; computer wizard Bob Weathers; graphics whiz Robin McLendon; reader and critic Norma McKittrick; and last (but by no means least) publisher, editor and newfound friend Ellen Sullivan.

There are others, of course, who are not named here for one reason or another, but none are forgotten. Thank you all.


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