Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree


Product Details

$34.95  $32.50
University Alabama Press
Publish Date
6.34 X 9.27 X 1.05 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens is adjunct professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and consultant on tick-borne infections. Before retiring, she was a pediatric practitioner, child advocate, family health consultant, and a teacher. She is best known professionally for her studies on child abuse homicides, which led to new laws, and landmark studies documenting the earlier age of onset of puberty in American children. This is her first work of narrative nonfiction.


"A vividly detailed contribution to civil rights history." --Kirkus Reviews

"Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens has written a powerful and moving memoir of her life growing up in segregated Birmingham. Her honest and candid story engages both the reader's attention and sympathy. Her book will take its place among other such memoirs as a distinguished addition to the autobiographical literature looking at the city's critical experience during the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of its white citizens."
--Charles B. Dew, author of The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade

"Unloose My Heart is a sweeping account by Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens, a white woman who wrestles with her slave-owning ancestors, her years as a child and young mother in Birmingham, her visits with Black relatives, and her response to the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. Herman-Giddens recalls the horrific bombing of Black homes and churches in Birmingham--nicknamed 'Bombingham'--from the first bombing of an African American home in 1947 when she was in the first grade to when she herself heard 'the Klan's dynamite detonating' with four bombings in one week in 1962 and when the Klan murdered four young girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. A gripping tale of self-discovery that is both painful and inspiring."
--William R. Ferris, author of I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970

"Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens' memoir, Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree, is both a moving and sobering account of her coming of age during the civil rights movement and investigating her family history during the pandemic. Her research is thorough, and she writes of the wrongdoing her family perpetuated with a keen eye, not shying away from the generational horrors that are part of her family tree." --Katharine Armbrester reviewer for Southern Review of Books

"Unloose My Heart is a remarkable achievement of personal and historical journalism, a gripping account of how one young woman came to understand her family's debts in a segregated world and the steps she took to settle them."
--Jim Willse, former editor of The New York Daily News and reporter for The Southern Courier in the 1960s