Record Details

Catalog Search

Back To Results
Showing Item 2 of 160

Unloose my heart : a personal reckoning with the twisted roots of my Southern family tree  Cover Image Book Book

Unloose my heart : a personal reckoning with the twisted roots of my Southern family tree


"A deeply personal memoir that unearths a family history of racism, slaveholding, and trauma as well as love and sparks of delight. Marcia Herman's family moved to Birmingham in 1946, when she was five years old, and settled in the steel-making city dense with smog and a rigid apartheid system. Marcia, a shy only child, struggled to fit in and understand this world, shadowed as it was by her mother's proud antebellum heritage. In 1966, weary of Alabama's toxic culture, Marcia and her young family left Birmingham and built a life in North Carolina. Later in life, Herman-Giddens resumed a search to find out what she did not know about her family history. Unloose My Heart interweaves the story of her youth and coming of age in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement together with this quest to understand exactly who and what her maternal ancestors were and her obligations as a white woman within a broader sense of American family. More than a memoir set against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the civil rights struggle, this is the work of a woman of conscience writing in the twenty-first century. Haunted by the past, Unloose My Heart is a journey of exploration and discovery, full of angst, sorrow, and yearning. Unearthing her forebears' centuries-long embrace of plantation slavery, Herman-Giddens dug deeply to parse the arrogance and cruelty necessary to be a slaveholder and the trauma and fear that ripple out in its wake. All this forced her to scrutinize the impact of this legacy in her life, as well as her debt to the enslaved people who suffered and were exploited at her ancestors' hands. But she also discovers lost connections, new cousins and friends, unexpected joys, and, eventually, a measure of peace in the process. With heartbreak, moments of grace, and an enduring sense of love, Unloose My Heart shines a light in the darkness and provides a model for a heartfelt reckoning with American history"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780817321451 (hardcover)
  • ISBN: 0817321454 (hardcover)
  • Physical Description: xviii, 266 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
  • Publisher: Tuscaloosa, Alabama : The University of Alabama Press, [2023]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages [251]-254) and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
Early childhood -- A hybrid self -- Moving to Birmingham -- Searching for Jesse Robinson -- The McAlpins explained -- Summers north -- Summers south -- Harmony Hall, the Richardsons, and turpentine -- Coming of age -- The Brooke Hill School for Girls and Ramsay High School -- College and marriage, 1960 -- "Bombingham" -- Back to Birmingham, 1961 -- Birmingham, 1962 -- Birmingham explodes, 1963 -- Birmingham, Tuskegee Institute, and Project CAUSE, 1964 -- Tuskegee again and the Concerned White Citizens March, 1965 -- Burrowing into cotton -- Leaving Birmingham, 1966 -- At the end -- Afterword: shame, hope, and discoveries.
Subject: Herman-Giddens, Marcia Edwina, 1941-
Women, White > Alabama > Birmingham > Biography.
Birmingham (Ala.) > Social life and customs > 20th century.
Civil rights movements > Alabama > Birmingham > History > 20th century.
Birmingham (Ala.) > Race relations > History > 20th century.
Herman-Giddens, Marcia Edwina, 1941- > Family.
McAlpin, Robert, -1852 > Family.
Slaveholders > Southern States > Biography.
Birmingham (Ala.) > Biography.
Genre: Biographies.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at State Library of Alabama.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
APLS 976.1781 HER 2023 31291002964888 GENEALOGY Available -

Back To Results
Showing Item 2 of 160

Additional Resources