Blessings and Curses in the Midst of the Land
by Roberta Wright
Trafford Publishing

"The land that Poppa paid such a high emotional price for, his children didn't want. We rejected the land and its people. This illustrates what damage resentment can do."

Amidst the southern landscape of Mississippi, a man named Samuel Wesley Gathing pursued a life of goodness, while struggling to raise fourteen children with his wife, Beatrice. Their story is recounted in Roberta Wright's new book and it is one that will affect us in many ways.

Sam Gathing, also known as Reverend Gathing or to his children as Poppa, experienced the hardships of WWI, the Depression, WWII and not to mention, the threatening Ku Klux Klan and oppressive Jim Crow Laws of the south. At the tender age of nine, he received the call to preach and as a gifted orator quickly gained leadership and notoriety among the black spiritual community. He used his position as father and preacher to provide stability for his family and the spiritual community to help them escape the ruling white society that treated them as unequal. Sam and his wife were both fortunate to buy land, a rare measure of status, and raise their family in a log cabin out in the "boondocks." There was a strong spiritual upbringing in the household and the Gathing children learned from Poppa's stories and words of wisdom as he tried to educate them to be strong while they dealt with uncertainty in the face of social change. Their lives were shaped deeply by their father, but their love for the land in Mississippi they called home was emotionally scarred from the years of tragedy and mistreatment.

Wright's book attempts to regain trust and belief in society and appreciate again the blessings that were offered to them as children by others, especially their father, who only continued to fight for rights and bring about change. There is considerable history provided in this biography that gives readers a first person perspective of how it affects someone so mistreated as unequal. This is a story that was meant to be shared and is made more intimate with the addition of family recipes and pictures. The reader gains understanding of how one family struggled during a difficult era. It is a reminder of what one can accomplish through the power of faith and how families can find strength and meaning through unjust and trying times. Sam Gathing and his family's love for one another is an admirable example of the human spirit.

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