4 out of 4 stars
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Many came to this world to sacrifice their lives for the betterment of others. While some of these are globally renowned, some are local champions whose work is helping the efforts of global champions reach the grassroots. Rev. Dr. L. E. Bennett could be regarded as the local champion of Texas in his time. He fought hard for the equality of Negros in his little town of San Antonio, Texas. His main priority at Southwestern Bell Telecommunications Company is to ensure that the Negros have equal opportunities as the Whites. Sharon K. Bennett wrote this book, Jewel of the South to empower, inspire, and motivate readers to be the difference the world needs.
Sharon began the book by providing a brief history of her father from her grandparents, Dan and Anice. She explored the joy, the survival, and the struggles of her grandparents and how her dad, L.E. (as he was fondly called), beat everyone and was the first to graduate from high school with honours. She wrote beautifully about the career progress of L. E. from high school to being in the Army, and earning the respect of his superiors and colleagues before he left. He then got a job at Southwestern Bell as a janitor, regardless of his qualifications. His experience at this job inspired him to fight for equal opportunities with their white coworkers, who do not have the same qualifications as the Negros but are paid less and assigned less-deserving jobs.
I like the style Sharon employs in writing this book. She did not waste time describing the unnecessary. She is brief and straight to the point without sacrificing the essence of her message. The story-like approach she employed ensures that all the necessary characters were adequately developed. She called out my emotions as I flowed along. She employed simple English, which made it suitable for all ages to read and understand. I also liked that the author included her poems and that of her dad at the end of each chapter. The pictures that were included too made the story relatable. They made my journey through memory lane and familiarised me with the faces behind the names.
Whenever I read the memoirs of great men like this, I always look out for their love lives, and L.E.'s love life did not disappoint me. The love and respect he has for his wife are strong and worth emulating. The way he and Essie meet and grow their love is scintillating. As busy and influential as he was, he did listen to the counsel of his wife, a sign of how his mother trained him and his other siblings. There was a day when his struggles got to him, and he went out to drink alone. His brother met him and made him understand that all these spare times he has for himself should be spent with his wife and children. He accepted this correction and changed. I admired how teachable he is, a sign of his humility. I also admired his willingness to say sorry not just to his wife but also to his children.
JFK and MLK speeches fueled him; he got fired up and challenged the status quo, fighting for a better life for his people, people of colour. I found this attitude inspiring. And I realised there is more to life than just being comfortable; affecting the lives of people around you is a key to living a happier life. Also, people may not appreciate your efforts to assist them now; however, keep going as long as your cause is just.
I found nothing to dislike about this book. I had the privilege of reading this great man's biography, and I must admit that I took many things from him to emulate. I found just two errors, which made the book professionally edited. It is well-formatted, and I liked its presentation. Therefore, I will rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I recommend this book to those who love to read the biographies of great people, activists, and lovers of good books. They will find it fascinating to learn about how a single man was able to achieve equality for his people with the help of others who were ready to assist him.
Jewel of the South
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