I incorporate Black History into my books, and as promised, throughout this month I have been posting excerpts from my books that reference Black history. I’m closing out Black History Month with this final excerpt from WISHING ON A STAR:
“Would that it were that simple–no pun intended. At least there was a President named Woodrow. My name’s not Woodrow, Shay.”
“It’s not? Well, what is it?”
Woody looked at her self-consciously for a beat before saying softly, “It’s Woodington.”
“It’s ‘Woodington’, Shay.”
Shay paused a moment before asking, “Uh…How did you wind up with a name like Woodington?”
He smiled resignedly, “Wait; it gets worse.” He stood, and drew himself up to his full height, “My full legal name is Woodington James Hollister–the third. So you see how I got it. I inherited it.”
Shay blinked, “Good Lord.”
“Woodington was my great-grandmother’s maiden name, and her father was born a slave. He was one of the first post-slavery blacks to get an education, and he became a teacher.” Wood paused a moment, remembering.
“I’m sure you know that during slavery it was illegal for blacks to learn to read,” he continued. “Anyone who taught a slave to read was severely punished. So my ancestor spent his life teaching other black people how to read. However, even though slavery had by then technically ended, he was caught teaching–and lost his life because of it.”
Shay looked up at Woody, spellbound by this tale.
“He had no sons. Understandably, my multi-grandma, his daughter, was proud of him, and didn’t want his name to die with him, so she named my grandfather Woodington.”
“What a sad–and beautiful–story. It’s a name you should be proud to bear.”
“It’s a mouthful. When I was a kid, I got teased, and sure got into enough fights because of it. But when I got old enough to understand… Yes, I am proud of it.”