Honoring Love, Legacy, and the African American Experience
In the powerful first-person narrative book “The Story of Ruth,” Black author Rosalind “Bee” Harris embarks on an emotional journey to honor her late mother, Ruth Juanita Smith James Boyd. The book, published on Mother’s Day, serves as a heartfelt tribute to a remarkable woman and explores the African American experience from the depths of Jim Crow to the historic election of the first Black president.
Ruth Smith’s story begins in racially segregated Mississippi, where she, her husband, and their first child made the courageous decision to seek a brighter future by migrating north to Michigan. Their pursuit of the American Dream was one shared by countless African American families at the time—yearning for the freedom and opportunities that had long been denied to them.
Harris’s motivation to write “The Story of Ruth” was deeply personal. The sudden loss of her mother in November 2008, coinciding with the historic election of Barack Obama, left her heartbroken. It was a turning point in her life, marking the beginning of a soul-searching journey that eventually led her to the creation of this moving narrative.
“I wrote this book to memorialize her life,” Harris explains. “Losing my mother was devastating. My heart sank with pain. It was the beginning of my soul’s search, which brings me to this point of honoring and remembering her.”
Throughout the book, Harris uses her mother’s own words to weave a unique first-person narrative, allowing Ruth’s voice to resonate and come alive on the pages. It’s a touching tribute that encapsulates the love and bond between a daughter and her mother.
Harris’s connection with her mother remains strong even after her passing. She speaks of feeling her mother’s spirit around her every day, and writing this book has provided solace to her soul.
As the publisher of the Denver Urban Spectrum, an award-winning community publication dedicated to highlighting people of color since 1987, Harris is no stranger to the importance of preserving and sharing stories that are often overlooked. Her commitment to truth and accuracy in news and information shines through in “The Story of Ruth.”
James Michael Brodie, a former editor, contributor, and friend of Harris, underscores the significance of preserving such stories, particularly in the face of recent attempts to suppress the teaching of Black history in many states.
“The telling of this story gives voice to the insightful historical saga of a Black family at a time when many now seek to silence such voices,” says Brodie. “Ruth Smith bore witness to the humanity of those she loved. If ever there was a time to tell our stories, now is that time.”
“The Story of Ruth” is more than just a tribute to a beloved mother; it’s a testament to the strength, resilience, and unwavering love that characterize the African American experience. Through its pages, readers are invited to share in the journey of a family that, like so many others, strived for a brighter future against the backdrop of racial inequality and discrimination.
Notably, the proceeds from book sales will support the Ruth Boyd Elder Abuse Foundation, furthering the legacy of Ruth Juanita Smith James Boyd and contributing to a cause that seeks to protect vulnerable elders—a cause as noble as the story itself.
“The Story of Ruth” is a heartwarming narrative that transcends generations, celebrating a mother’s life and leaving readers inspired by the indomitable spirit of a family’s pursuit of the American Dream. It reminds us of the enduring power of storytelling, even in the face of adversity, and how sharing our stories can shape the world for the better.
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