by Ronald Patterson
Despite my serving time in prison for the last 38 years (I was sentenced at the age of 16), I do a lot of reading, especially non-fiction and historical fiction. “The Southern Phoenix” by Rosemary Jenkins is labeled a work of historical fiction but every word comes to life as real and true. It has become a valuable addition to my library and a treasured gift, with scenes I love to describe and share with others. As a Black man, I know that many of us don’t know our own history.
For many of those who are aware of our past, that knowledge is often too painful, so this book is an important tool on our life’s journey to learn about ourselves and understand each other. The title and cover art to me are very symbolic. The reader is redirected spiritually toward the light which makes vision possible, reminding us that light represents truth. Light shines equally on all of us regardless of color or environment or race. Ms. Jenkins is unique in her ability to reflect that light in the truths that unfold in her book. The idea of the phoenix rising from the depths of despair to the light of wisdom and certainty is something we can or should all relate to.
The Southern Phoenix is a valuable contribution not just to Black history but to the history of all of us with all our shared and separate experiences. What is precious about it is the possibilities it offers for dialogue among those who read it– discussions that teach and opportunities that assist in learning. Pearls of wisdom are found within for those who seek to find them. This book deals honestly with how races– Black and white– have interacted with each other over time– past and present.
I highly recommend it to all readers.