Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

Books Reviews
Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story

On one level, Blood Done Sign My Name is a terrific memoir—Tim Tyson’s retrospective of a racially motivated 1970 murder in his hometown of Oxford, N.C., and its aftermath of riots, retribution and hopeless attempts at both cover-ups and justice. But from the book’s opening line (“Daddy and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a nigger!”) through its deep probing into the complicated worlds of family, church and community, a much larger tale unfolds: a metaphor for an entire nation unwilling to confront its violent, racist past. The book is beautifully written, echoing both James Baldwin’s humanist spirituality and Mark Twain’s bitter humor as Tyson struggles to understand what this story means for himself and his country. He doesn’t offer tidy explanations but along the way reveals deep, hard truths. Tyson’s willingness to reckon with his own demons suggests at least one path to justice and reconciliation; if he can look himself in the mirror so unflinchingly, perhaps the rest of us can, too.

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