Novelist Kathleen M. Rodgers talks about the undercurrent of racism in a small town

September 13, 2015 (update: Dec. 1, 2016)

At some point in our lives, we all have to fess up to our own prejudices. I did not grow up in a racist home, but somewhere along the way as a child, I picked up some of those views. I am not proud of some of the things I did in my youth, and recently I shared some of my memories with newspaper columnist Wendel Sloan.

Wendel's column 9:12:15







Wendel Sloan is Director of Media Relations at Eastern New Mexico University. His weekly column appears in the Clovis News Journal and the Portales News Tribune.

seven_wings_300Seven Wings to Glory, releases April 1, 2017 from Camel Press

Johnnie Kitchen is finally living her dream, attending college and writing a column for the local paper. She adores her husband Dale and chocolate Labrador Brother Dog, and they reside in a comfortable home in the small town of Portion in North Texas. Their three children are thriving and nearly grown.

But Johnnie is rattled when her youngest boy Cade goes to fight in Afghanistan. The less frequent his emails, the more she frets for his safety. On the home front, Johnnie learns that Portion is not the forward-thinking town she believed. A boy Cade’s age, inflamed by a liberal bumper sticker and the sight of Johnnie’s black friend Whit, attacks them with the N-word and a beer bottle. After Johnnie writes about the incident in her column, a man named Roosevelt reaches out with shameful stories from Portion’s untold history. More tears and triumphs will follow, as Johnnie’s eyes are opened to man’s capacity for hate and the power of love and forgiveness.

The sequel to Johnnie Come Lately


Published by


Author of the novels The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately & Seven Wings to Glory. Former contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Future work represented by agent Diane Nine, Nine Speakers Inc.

4 thoughts on “Novelist Kathleen M. Rodgers talks about the undercurrent of racism in a small town”

  1. Thank you, Kathleen. What a moving article. I was brought up in Missouri in the 1950s. The town was quietly racist. Everyone knew their place. My unusual parents dared to cross the railroad track when one of my father’s employees had a baby or to go to a restaurant my dad loved. It was always clear that we lived on the other side. Racism was better in Michigan where I went to Jr. high and highschool, but there was still housing segregation. We’re still fighting the battle for equality in upstate New York. I’m so glad to know you’re standing up in Texas.

    1. Elaine,
      Thank you for taking a moment to read Wendel’s column and for having the courage to write about your upbringing in the south. I find hope in the fact that your parents challenged the status quo. What I find interesting is that you are the sole person who’s bothered to leave a comment on my blog. Only a few likes and comments over on Facebook. Why is it we can post photos of our dogs and get a hundred likes, but the mention of the word “racism” and people shut down.
      I find their silence so telling.

      Thanks for not staying silent, Elaine.


  2. Kathleen, I am a new college professor at a small liberal arts college in northeast Georgia. My “former life” –36 years of it, at least, was spent in elementary classrooms–some years in elite private schools, others in rural and urban settings where poverty and racism were (and still are, no doubt) the realities. I was struck by Wendall Sloan’s last comment about “modeling how to kill youthful prejudices by driving a stake into its dark heart.” That’s what we also are trying to do here in my northeast GA undergraduate class entitled “The Multicultural Classroom.” Your upcoming novel was brought to my attention by one of the members of our class. I think you’d be proud of the direction we are trying to go. Know that there are some very fine young people who are taking up this challenge with passion and grace. I am so proud to learn from them–and from you! Thank you. P.S. I don’t suppose you’d want to come speak to our class, would you? It’s just a thought…..

    1. Hi Sara Alice,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read Wendel Sloan’s column and for leaving your thoughtful commentary. You sound like a fabulous professor and your students are so lucky to have you. I’d love to know how one of your students learned about the column which originally ran in two newspapers in New Mexico.
      I’m assuming that they found it online or on my blog?

      It’s so encouraging to learn that young people are taking up the cause to help fight racism in this country. Thank you for the invitation to come speak to your class. I’m based in North Texas, but I’d welcome the opportunity. Maybe we can work something out.

      Take care and thanks again for your note,


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