Juneteenth


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Highlighting Historical Romance with Nancy Massand and facts behind The Circle Unbroken.

In researching the events of 1964 in the Civil Rights era while writing The Circle Unbroken, I was struck by the bigotry that persisted 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation signed on September 22, 1862, during the Civil War.

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Emancipation Park, Juneteenth 1880

This week 47 states officially celebrate Juneteenth, short for June nineteenth, 1965, the day slaves in Galveston, Texas, were informed that they were free—two and a half years after the fact! According to Samuel Collins of the Texas board of advisers for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, his grandmother shared a story she heard from her friend’s grandfather that “It wasn’t no piece of paper that freed the slaves. It was the men with the guns!” These men were Union soldiers, some white, some African American, some free, some former slaves who had been liberated to fight for the Union. When the Civil War ended in April 1865, Union soldiers began moving westward to take control of the Confederate states one by one. Two months later, they landed in Galveston. So although the official emancipation document was penned in 1862, the former enslaved people of that era chose June 19, 1865 to celebrate as their true emancipation day.

About the Book

The Circle Unbroken takes place during Freedom Summer, 1964, nearly 100 years after Juneteenth. Citizens of color, descendants of formerly enslaved people, are denied their right to vote, attend integrated schools and live free of discrimination. Although not at war, the country is still divided.

Sheltered, sixteen-year-old Mavis Powell finds herself thrust into this turbulent melee when her father is threatened in Mississippi for opening a literacy center in his church. Sent to her relatives in New York City for safety, Mavis is completely undone when she meets smooth talking Harris Brown, her cousin’s best friend. Outwardly brash and impulsive, Harris is deeper than most people know. But there’s a chasm between Mavis’ religious family and Harris’ roots in the Harlem clubs. Though he loves Mavis, he makes a choice of conscience that takes him far from her. And Mavis, just as impetuous but much more naïve, follows him.

Their recklessness takes them back to Mississippi during Freedom Summer. Although their motives are pure, the result is tragic. Slammed with rejection by her family as well as the church, Mavis’ first year with Harris threatens to be their last. What does it take to heal a broken family? How do you save a love that’s pulled so tight it’s ready to snap? The Circle Unbroken is a redeeming testimony to the power of love.

About the Author

Nancy Massand’s short stories and creative nonfiction are published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort and various online sites such as Storyhouse.org. The Circle Unbroken is her debut novel and a first prize winner in the 2018 Romance Writers of America’s annual Hearts Through History competition in the Modern-Day History division. It was released by Soul Mate Publishing in September 2019. You can check it out here: The Circle Unbroken

You may contact Nancy at nancymassand@nancymassand.com

Excerpt from The Circle Unbroken–

I thought Aunt Caroline’s eyebrows were going to rise right off her head and hit the ceiling. “You mean to tell me you were running the streets with that no-good woman right under our noses when I expressly told you that you were to have nothing to do with that family? Mavis, what were you thinking?”

Uncle Cal came out of the bedroom rubbing his eyes. “What’s all this racket? You want to wake up the whole neighborhood? What no good woman?”

Aunt Caroline’s eyes went wide. She exhaled through her nose and clamped her mouth shut. I stared at her, trying to get her to look at me, to give me some sign whether to come clean with Uncle Cal or clam up like her. She just stared straight ahead. I thought of Jacob. He’d just tell it like it happened, real quiet like, and Uncle Cal would listen. I thought of Harris. Whatever was in his head would come out his mouth. He was never one to hold back the truth. And Uncle Cal would knock him down, but he’d get back up again. So I told it, with Uncle Cal turning purpler by the minute. If Aunt Caroline’s eyebrows were about to dislodge from her head, Uncle Cal looked like a volcano about to erupt. But I galloped through my whole story like a runaway horse, not letting either of them get a word in edgewise. I told them how I’d met Miss Birdie and Mr. Brown (I was still so in awe of him I couldn’t refer to him by his first name), about Mama’s Place and how everyone called me Harris’ girl and was so nice to me, and how Frankie got arrested and we had to go down to the precinct. I even told them about sneaking back into the house through the boys’ window at five o’clock in the morning. Aunt Caroline still wasn’t looking at me. She was covering her face with her hands. Uncle Cal was glaring at me as only Uncle Cal could do, with red rims around his eyes.

Then the phone rang. At two twenty in the morning by the kitchen clock. My story halted in midsentence, and the three of us froze. And Aunt Caroline finally looked at me, fear in her eyes. Middle of the night phone calls were never good.

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