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University of Iowa News Release


April 17, 2007

'Blood Done Sign My Name' Selected For 'All Johnson County Reads'

"Blood Done Sign My Name" by Timothy B. Tyson, the true story of a black U.S. Army veteran killed by three white men in Oxford, N.C. in the early 1970s, is the 2007 selection for "One Community, One Book -- All Johnson County Reads."

The project promoting insights on human rights in the United States is coordinated by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) in conjunction with other sponsoring organizations from Johnson County and the UI.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to read and discuss the selected book in order to develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues locally, nationally and internationally.

The book, published by Random House in 2004, is the true story of 23-year-old Henry Marrow, who was murdered in 1973. In the wake of the killing, young African-Americans took to the streets. The author's father, the pastor of Oxford's all-white Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.

Tyson returns to Oxford 30 years later to make sense of what happened and how the events changed his life. As he weaves together childhood memories with the realities of present-day Oxford, he sheds new light on America's struggle for racial justice.

"Blood Done Sign My Name" won the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction. Tyson, a North Carolina native, teaches and writes about the history of African-American freedom movements in the 20th-century South. He holds appointments in the department of history at Duke and in the department of American studies at the University of North Carolina.

The "One Community, One Book" project will run from mid-September through mid-November. Teachers, students, librarians, book groups and others are encouraged to participate. By announcing the selection now, the project sponsors hope to allow time for groups to read the book and participate in fall community discussion forums, and for teachers to plan classroom discussions around the book.

In addition to UICHR, UI sponsors include the Charter Committee on Human Rights; the UI Departments of English and History and the Writers' Workshop in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Hancher Auditorium; International Programs; the International Writing Program; University Book Store; and UI Libraries.

Johnson County sponsors include the Iowa City Human Rights Commission; the Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty public libraries; Hills Bank & Trust Company; Iowa Book LLC; and Prairie Lights Books. Iowa City High School and West High School are also participating.

For more information, contact UICHR at 319-335-3900 or

Founded in 1999, the UICHR is a direct outgrowth of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, the yearlong UI commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Dec. 10, 1948. Initiated by a multidisciplinary group of faculty, the center's mission is to support the promotion and protection of human rights at home and abroad by providing leadership in human rights research, education and public service to the UI, its surrounding community, the state of Iowa and beyond.

The UICHR is a part of International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,; Program: Amy Weismann, 319-335-0483,; Writer: Joan Nashelsky.