“I suspect the intergenerational conversation Rodney Hurst and Dr. Rudy Jamison share in Never Forget Who You Are is one that will feel unfamiliar and unsettling to many White readers. Many times in our relationship Rodney has pointed out how uncommon it is for White and Black Americans to engage in honest and courageous dialogue with each other about race and racism. As Rodney has taught me, Black participants in these conversations frequently retreat into what he calls “comfort speak” and this escape into conciliatory language is an effort to mollify Whites as doing otherwise risks tripping our hair trigger of White fragility. Which is all to say, to my White brothers and sisters and colleagues who are interested in racial equity and justice, read this book. You will find no comfort speak here. Quite the contrary, you will be challenged as neither of these brilliant and passionate men wrote this book to bring us comfort, but rather to deliver the truth of what it means to be a Black man in these United States. As you read this book my encouragement to you is to heighten your awareness of your emotions and your automatic mental reactions, both conditioned from the White supremacist ideology that permeates the grand American narratives that these men chronicle and explore here. And as you tune your awareness to your conditioned reactions to these difficult and honest racial truths shared with us by two unapologetically Black men (as Rudy frequently discloses), remember the spirit in which Rodney and Rudy tell us they are delivering them in their introductions: with thankfulness to God’s grace, generosity, and love.”
Chris Janson Ph.D., Associate Professor and Robinson Eminent Scholar and Endowed Chair, University of North Florida
“Millennials and Generation Xers should read these observations of Rodney L. Hurst, a civil rights warrior, and Rudy F. Jamison, an early benefactor of the progress that Hurst and others fought for. In doing so, they’d understand the origins of the racism that has created fertile soil for the injustices they’re seeing today, and unless they’re armed intellectually to confront it, they’re doomed to be buried by it.”
Tonyaa Weathersbee, metro columnist, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. Former columnist, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
“Rodney L. Hurst and Dr. Rudy F. Jamison’s conversations about the origin and influence of racism in America is a must-read to understand the emotional, social, economic and psychological outcomes of slavery and segregation on Black people. This unique book tells the story of how an eleven-year old, middle school student learned to become a Civil Rights pioneer as a member of the NAACP Youth Group. Mr. Hurst “tells it like it is” from the front lines of the sit-ins and marches to integrate predominantly white institutions in downtown Jacksonville, Fl. Dr. Jamison did not participate in the Civil Rights movement firsthand, but he is quick to recognize the patterns of racism patterns of racism experienced in his life, his community and in academia. Never forget Who You Are: Conversations About Racism and Identity Developmentis an excellent book study for families and teacher preparation programs.”
Dr. Carolyn Girardeau, Duval County Public Schools, Retired. Retired Professor, Florida State College at Jacksonville
Chevara Orrin, Founder, #whiteandwoke, Social Entrepreneur
“With Never Forget Who You Are, Hurst and Jamison powerfully reveal America’s vile racism and give us hope for a reimagined future through compelling life experiences, unsettling truths and historical context. This cross-generational conversation forces us to interrogate our nation and ourselves.”
“Salient and free of ambiguity-not a single word or thought minced! Never Forget Who You Areserves as a clarion call for the inherent obligation we each hold as Black folk in America. Striking, are the themes and symmetry of Rudy and Rodney’s perspective given their multi-generational lenses. In the chapter “The space we choose” amplifies the cognitive dissonance we deploy to find comfort or validation with said choice or space. This offering is littered with topics equally possessing the gravity to stand alone. The multi-layered response approach, I posit, will resonate with a much broader populace.”
Herman J. Felton Jr., J.D., Ph.D., President – Wiley College Marshall, TX, Founder – Higher Education Leadership Foundation (HELF)
“Hurst and Jamison insist that everyone in America acknowledge the ways that race, racism, and White supremacy have been taught, upheld, and experienced throughout the country’s history. This book takes the form of an ongoing, intergenerational conversation about those issues between two unapologetically Black men. Their experiences, wisdom, critiques, memories, and cautious hopes function to educate about the ways racism works, how it is learned, the damage it does, the communities it forges, and how it might be interrupted. Hurst and Jamison invite readers to learn from their stories, but also to think about how readers themselves can attend to the various forms of racism in their own lives and, importantly, how they might think again about how to change the shape of racism’s contours toward the shape of justice. For readers who are steeped in racial knowledge, as well as those who think that we live in a post-racial America, this book contains a crucial message for these troubled times.”
H. James Garrett, Ph.D., Associate Professor University of Georgia Athens Ga.,
Author – learning to be in the world with others: difficult knowledge & social studies education
"Rodney Lawrence Hurst, along with Rudy F. Jamison Jr. delivers another masterpiece full of perspective and timeless wisdom that spans generations and demographics. The sages tell us 'if we don't learn from history we will be doomed to repeat it,' well reading this brilliant book would be an excellent first step towards higher ground."
Paul Samuel Dolman, Author & Host of The What Matters Most Podcast
“Thank you for allowing me to read this manuscript and the opportunity to provide a few comments. It was an honor to review this monumental work. The unresolved issue of racism in these yet to be United States of America is a daunting subject from any perspective. To attempt to record a conversation about the subject is even more daunting, even among friends. So, I am pleased to have read what I consider to be the best joint analysis of America’s continuing struggle with the subject, by two people who approach the subject from different places, personally and generationally, and is amazing.
I am not sure if the kindred relationship is by blood or an assumed one, however, the reverent respect and love, obvious throughout the discussion, must have made this subject easier to approach on all levels.
The book identifies the problem which is the continued impact and influence of American racism. It is unique, firmly rooted in slavery supported by a belief that skin pigmentation renders some human beings inferior to other human beings. The conversation(s) are thorough and historically based. They are supported by research and lived experience and yet, they are at times painfully personal. I feel the authors have expertly defined the problem and worked extremely hard to describe its impact on the nation we call home, and their conclusion the onus is on white America to resolve the problem, is quite well placed.
I am also pleased that the authors use their lived experiences as the vehicle for this analysis. Hurst having grown up in 1950s and 1960s in Jacksonville, Florida, speaks fluently to what the civil rights movement was all about. Jamison, coming of age a generation or so removed from that fight in the same Jacksonville, offers a view tempered by his academic background, but still faced with the daily impact of racism.
The book is a study of history and a study of sociology and culture. It is complex but simple. Reading their discussions will help us all understand the subject of racism more fully. It will also generate some anger, some grief, and a bit of laughter. More importantly, I think it can help all of us begin to have a true conversation about racism in this country.
If you are not part of the solution, you are definitely a part of the problem. In their own separate ways, each author offers us a way and a reason to engage in the conversation. Thank you for the opportunity.”