The Legacy of Tamar
Courage and Faith in an African American Family
- Author(s): Springfield, Raye
- Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
- Publication Date: 2000-07-19
- Status: Active
- Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $40.00 | Buy Now
Tracing the story of five generations of an African American family in the rural South, The Legacy of Tamar is a moving testament to the resilience and triumph of the human spirit. In documenting the struggles of the Taylor-Springfield family, it also explores the fascinating history of Haywood County, Tennessee, where blacks have outnumbered whites almost two to one.
Raye Springfield begins her family history in 1913, when Polk Taylor had a dream that foretold the deaths of five family members. After his death, Taylor’s widow, Tamar, accepted the role of family matriarch. The Taylor and Springfield families were subsequently joined when Tamar’s granddaughter, Opal, married Tonnie Springfield. The book then follows this family, among the few black landowners in the county, as they endeavored to maintain their farm and their bonds of kinship in the face of significant change—most notably the great northern migration. As the author shows in rich detail, the social upheavals in Haywood County brought on by the diminished interest in farming mirrored the national disruptions that occurred with the shift from a largely rural, agricultural society to an urban, industrial one.
The Legacy of Tamar spans two world wars, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights era, showing how the family retained their dreams for a better future in an area where every effort—both social and legal—was exercised to control the large African American population. For this family, strong religious faith and a fervent belief in the value of education helped sustain them through countless hardships. And ultimately, the dreams of Opal and Tonnie Springfield were realized through their grandchildren.
More than just the story of one family in one small place, The Legacy of Tamar reflects similar struggles by African American families throughout the South and the nation.
The Author: Raye Springfield lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Board of Regents. She was previously an assistant attorney general for the State of Tennessee.