April 09, 2013

{Giveaway} Interview with Rosalie Turner, author of March With Me

Interview with Rosalie Turner, Author of
March With Me

HFC: Tell us about MARCH WITH ME. What is the story about?

RT: MARCH WITH ME is the story of two girls, one white and one black who are teenagers during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s. The book shows what life was like for both races during that turbulent time. Ultimately, the lives of these two girls, Letitia and Martha Ann, impact each other.

HFC: Why did you write this book?

RT: I had several motivations for writing MARCH WITH ME. The first began years ago when I realized the importance of the Children’s March and I wanted to tell that story. The second was when dialogue at meetings of both blacks and whites indicated the older generation’s frustration that the younger generation didn’t realize what life was really like for them. I wanted to make that time come alive for all generations. The third motivation was to introduce the idea of the importance of reconciliation.

HFC: Tell us about the Children’s March.

RT: When Martin Luther King Jr. came down to B’ham in 1963 he hoped to get a lot of marchers & demonstrators against the Jim Crow laws. He wanted to fill the jails and get national attention. That didn’t happen because the adults were too afraid to march. He called in a young leader of SCLC who got the kids all fired up to march, although King didn’t want them to. There were all kinds of code words and secret messages sent through the black DJ’s and so on May 2nd, thousands of black kids left schools in and around B’ham, converged on 16th St. Baptist Church & went out in groups of fifty. The first day hundreds of kids, some as young as 8, were arrested. The 2nd day was when Bull Connor turned the fire hoses & dogs on them. Those are the pictures you always see of Birmingham.

HFC: What effect do you think the Children’s March had on the civil rights movement?

RT: I think it was absolutely pivotal, along with the March on Washington in Aug of ’63 and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Sept. Those three event captured the attention of the media and thus of government. The result was the Civil Rights Act that Johnson signed in 1964.

HFC: Did the Civil Rights Act change things, especially in the south?

RT: I would have to say yes and no. If you were an individual living in the south you probably wouldn’t have noticed too many differences. Of course, there were positive changes – the “white only” & “colored” signs went away, blacks could be served in restaurants, go to the public library, etc. but in day to day living, life didn’t change much. However, that legislation was needed before changes could really begin to happen. There had to be laws to back up the changes.

HFC: Were you personally involved in any demonstrations?

RT: No, I was a young wife of a Marine stationed in California. We were just starting our family, and although I certainly heard about events, I was not involved with them. When I had been in college in Virginia and sit ins and such were starting, I had thought that if there was a sit in at the Woolworth’s counter in the college town I would go down and support it, but there never was one while I was there.

HFC: Don’t you think that if there hadn’t been Rosa Parks, Dr. King, the Children’s March, the freedom riders, all of that – that eventually we would have had desegregation and equal rights?

RT: No, I really don’t think so. If there hadn’t been those things, the status quo would have simply continued. We had to have the civil rights movement.

HFC: Why do you think Birmingham, Alabama became such a focal point for the movement?

RT: When you look at the history of Birmingham, it’s easy to see that it became the perfect set up for such a movement. It was a city founded on steel mills and coal mining. The geography itself with the valley and mountains (they’re called mountains, but they’re really hills) formed natural barriers to separate ethnic groups. The Depression hit B’ham very hard. When the mining and mills started to go away, that left a large number of unemployed in Birmingham proper. White flight began to take root out to the suburbs around. So, in B’ham, we had a long history of separation between the races and added to that became economic and job insecurities and fears. 

HFC: Your black protagonist, Letitia, is in first person, yet you are white. Why did you do that?

RT: I believe that writers can use any POV because they get into the heads of their characters, and the characters do the speaking. I needed to have Letitia have the strongest voice to help us all understand what it felt like to live through that time.

HFC: MARCH WITH ME deals with the concept of reconciliation. Do you believe that reconciliation can ever really take place between the races?

RT: I definitely do. In the face of news about hate crimes, etc. I still see reconciliation take place on many fronts. Former MS Gov. William Winter and his Institute for Racial Reconciliation make constant strides in places you would least expect it – Philadelphia, MS for example. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program works with schools on all levels of eliminating hatred and mistrust of each other. So many YMCAs & YWCAs across the country have wonderful programs to eliminate racism. The important thing, I believe, is that when peoples of different backgrounds – any difference such as white, Hispanic, Muslim, black, whatever – whenever we get together we must share our stories. We must recognize each other as simply people.

HFC: You use a tornado in your story both literally and figuratively. Tell us about that.

RT: Tornadoes are a very real part of life in the south. You may remember the horrific one in 2010 that took over 200 lives. When I considered the definition of a tornado – a tempest distinguished by a rapid swirling and a slow progressive movement – I couldn’t help but think how that could be a definition of the civil rights movement, so I thought using a tornado in the book was a natural.

About March With Me:
Like a tornado, the civil rights movement struck Birmingham in the spring of ’63. In this coming of age novel we are swept into the separate cultures of the south.

Two girls, one black and one white, endure the pain and prejudice of segregation. The girls mature and pursue the same profession until one fateful day when a force of nature sweeps in and rearranges their lives.

About the author:
Rosalie Turner is the author of five books. Her novel, Sisters of Valor, recently received the Military Writers Society of America Bronze Award for Fiction.

While living in Jacksonville, FL, she was awarded the JC Penney Award for establishing an inner city reading program.

Rosalie divides her time between New Mexico and Alabama.


Giveaway is for one copy of March With Me. Open internationally. Winner's choice of print copy or eBook. However, if international winner is chosen, they will receive the eBook. To enter, leave a comment about Rosalie's interview or tell us who you admire most in the Civil Rights Movement. Last day to enter is Tuesday, April 23 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


  1. This sounds like a great novel about a remarkable era in our history. As to who I admire, outside of Dr. King are the many "ordinary" citizens who exhibited individual courage. thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Hi Linda -

      You're so right about the "ordinary" citizens. There are so many neat stories!

  2. I recently reviewed this book for Amazon and GoodReads, Library Thing and Shelfari. I loved it and want to read more by this author.


    1. Thanks, Carol! You can check out the others at my website - www.rosalieturner.com - or on amazon.com. There is another Rosalie Turner who wrote a bk called "Empress of the Sea" - that is NOT one of mine!

  3. Dr. King has long been a hero of mine and the kids of the Birmingham March are right up there with him. What a difficult time that was for all of us, I'm so glad some progress was made. Thanks for hosting this giveaway, I'd love to win a copy of March With Me.

    1. Hi Carl -

      Hope you read MARCH WITH ME and find it meaningful. Thanks for entering the give away.

  4. Sounds like such a great novel! I would love to read it! There's so many inspiring leaders during that time..MLK Jr. Medger Evers, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, they all really made a difference in my life!

    booksandbeverages (at) gmail.com

  5. The courage of the people in the face of such hate. A hate I will never comprehend. A hate, that for some lives on.
    I'm sure this is a fascinating book.
    thank you

    kaiminani at gmail dot com

    1. Patty, you're the winner of the giveaway! I'm emailing you now. Congrats!


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