*A writer is someone with the ability to create and tell stories that have the potential to impact humanity. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Leonard Pitts, Jr., is such an individual as his work as a writer has provided readers with the insight and perspective to grow further.
A Los Angeles native, Pitts is a nationally syndicated columnist with the McClatchy Company (owners of the Miami Herald, Charlotte Observer, Fort-Worth Star Telegram and The Sacramento Bee), where he writes his own column that deals with issues that includes race, politics, and culture. A bestselling author, he has written 3 books, Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood, Before I Forget and the newly released Freeman. The story of a former slave who takes a perilous journey south to find his wife, Freeman is earning the praise and attention from serious readers across the country. The Robertson Treatment recently interviewed Pitts to find out what it means to be a great American writer.
Robertson Treatment: What motivated you to write Freeman?
Leonard Pitts: I have been fascinated for years by the whole question of what freedom meant to the slaves and how they defined it for themselves in the first days after the Civil War. The aspect I find most gripping is that the former slaves went to such extensive lengths to reconstitute their families – placing ads, walking incredible distances, writing letters, inquiring at refugee camps, all to find that brother, child or loved one from whom they had been separated years before. It’s a poignant and little known aspect of American history and I’ve always thought it would provide the basis for a compelling novel.
RT: Talk about the idea of family and why it’s important in so much of your work.
LP: I had not thought about it until you asked the question, but I suppose much of my work has been about family after all: Becoming Dad, Before I Forget and now, Freeman. Obviously, family is the root, the major building block of society, the primary means by which children are raised and socialized. It’s hardly a secret that the African American family has been under assault since slavery. I am intrigued by the determination of African Americans – through slavery, Jim Crow and some of our own modern-day dysfunctions – to honor and vindicate the importance of family. I think it’s a stirring thing.
RT: Why have the scars of slavery continue to haunt the American psyche?
LP: Because we have never confronted them, never had any American equivalent of South Africa’s “truth and reconciliation” process. When you have been through something as traumatic as slavery – and Jim Crow – there has to be space to process what you have endured, to speak your anger, humiliation, sorrow, pride, hope, truth, whatever. America has never really done that, never really provided that space. After the Civil War and after the Civil Rights Movement, America essentially pronounced the job finished and moved on to other things, leaving the newly freed African Americans largely to their own devices and to the mercy of those who hated them.
As someone pointed out to me a few weeks ago, in America integration (and the abolition of slavery) were imposed upon an unwilling population. These are not things the South ever agreed to, after all. To the contrary, they were made to accept these changes by force of law on the one hand and by military might on the other. Looked at like that, Southern intransigence and resistance are easier to understand. The mistake America made – and keeps making – is its failure to deal with that intransigence and resistance in any meaningful way.
RT: Are themes of respect, honor and sacrifice still important to a society seemingly obsessed by fast food and reality TV?
LP: I think fast food and reality TV make those themes more important than they’ve ever been.
RT: If Freeman were made into a movie, who would you like to see in the lead roles?
LP: Well, let’s see. I actually don’t have strong feelings about who would play Sam, though I think Don Cheadle would be a great choice. The actresses who were my physical models for Prudence and Bonnie are probably too old for the roles as written at this point, but they are: Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry. Tilda can be no one other than Taraji P. Henson. And I think James Gandolfini would make an incredible Marse Jim.
RT: Is America ready to come to terms with the legacy of slavery?
LP: No, America is deep in denial where the legacy of slavery – and Jim Crow – are concerned.
2012 Honda Pilot
From the moment it hit my driveway, I noticed a marked difference with the 2012 Honda Pilot. Already a favorite in the mid-size SUV community, the newly enhanced Pilot benefits from a slightly redesigned exterior and interior, as well as improved fuel economy. These tweaks certainly added to my driving experience and should give this ride added value against its competitors.
Wow Factor: The Pilot’s spacious interior is definitely a key benefit of this new ride. With a third row of seating that is comfortable enough for adults, plus additional usable cargo room, it brings true value for busy families who are on the move.
Ride: I was impressed with its all-wheel-drive system that allocates power to the rear wheels when front slippage occurs. Another great feature is the newly improved navigational system, which is accessible and easy to read.
Comfort: From leg room to lower back support the Pilot’s comfort features are spot on in adding to your driving [or riding} experience. I liked the improved materials featured throughout the interior, but especially on the dashboard, which also has upgraded features that make a smooth and easily manageable ride.
Spin Control: The Pilot has a solid asset base that will satisfy drivers across various demos. With a base price that starts just shy of $30k, this ride is competitively priced and I predict will perform well opposite vehicles in its class.
Copyright 2012, Robertson Treatment, LLC