"This oral history, artfully edited by Louise Westling, allows Rice to speak for herself, describing life in rural Alabama, her life as a school teacher, her two failed marriages, and, finally, the happiness she achieved with her third husband. Viewing her life with a sharp intelligence, always frank, compassionate, and informed by a deep religious faith, Rice offers an autobiography that often reads with the narrative sweep of a novel."
"Sarah Rice, a thrice-married, often impoverished black school teacher in the segregated rural schools of the South, tells a compelling, instructive, and otherwise unavailable story. It provides insight into black women struggling with the world of black males as well as with contemporary American society."
"In the oral history tradition of Theodore Rosengarten's All God's Dangers, which related the hardships of a black sharecropper in Alabama, Louise Westling's He Included Me reconstructs the difficult but dignified life of a black woman in Alabama and Florida during a large part of the twentieth century. It's a moving story that reveals a hidden corner of American life."
—New York Times
“A moving autobiography. . . . Her unadorned but colorful narrative style is an unremitting delight, particularly for readers raised in the South.”
“A unique contribution to a growing history of African American women.”
A rare first-person account of life in the twentieth-century South, He Included Me weaves together the story of a black family—eight children reared in rural Alabama, their mother a schoolteacher, their father a minister—and the emerging self-portrait of a woman determined, like her parents, to look ahead.
Sarah Rice recalls her mother's hymn of thanks—"He Included Me"—when God showed her a way to feed her family, and hears again her mother's quiet words, "It's no disgrace to work. It's an honor to make an honest dollar," spoken when her children were embarrassed that she took in white people's laundry. Rice speaks, finally, of the determination, faith, and pride that carried her through life.
In a document that spans more than three-quarters of the twentieth century, He Included Me presents the voice of a single woman whose life was rich in complexity, deep in suffering and joy; yet it also speaks for the many black women who have worked and struggled in the rural South and always looked ahead.
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