Hope of Glory
by Carolyn Scanlon Mclendon

"As the students neared the inauguration site on the Capitol grounds, they stopped singing and, like pebbles slipping into a jar filled with rocks, inched into every available space. They stood between the azaleas that lined the sidewalk, climbed the low hills on each side of the seating area and dropped onto the grass, and moved politely into available seats. They were silent and orderly."

A timely release, this novel chronicles a period of extreme political and social unrest in Mississippi (identified by its flag and Capitol) when a moderate governor dies and is replaced by a staunchly conservative lieutenant governor. As a charismatic African-American civil rights leader organizes a protest march against using the flag, with its historic symbolism of oppression, as a backdrop for the new governor’s taking the oath of office, other elements of society make plans to silence the leader forever. The highly conservative board of directors for the daily newspaper pressure their more moderate editor, Harry, to report only positively on the change of governor. This pressure is conflated by the fact that Harry is also the less-wealthy brother-in-law of one of these owners and Harry’s wife is strongly influenced by her brother, and they are both the children of a highly influential former U.S. Senator for the state.

As the anger and tensions begin to escalate, the characters tend to give in to long-held common beliefs and social structures. At times, the language used is both offensive and representative of some of the conversations still taking place in some circles today. Because there is little in the way of character growth in the story, it is likely the author’s intention to incite mild shock in relating these moments. Rather than attempting to provide a study in how an individual character develops from beginning to end, it seems the intent of the book is to illustrate the glacial pace of progress in some sections of the country, the crushing weight of social advancement, and the deep-seated fear that drives the outer hatred fueling the engine. While it contains few surprises, it can provide some insight into the generic ideologies held by various groups of people in the southern states.

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