Perseverance is King.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” ― Winston S. Churchill, “Never Give In!” The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches.

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Here is an example of persistence from the book Uncle T and the Uppity Spy. A black pastor honors Thomas Stonewall Jackson. This pastor, Reverend Downing, is the son of Jim Lewis and the nephew of Tyler Lewis. The pastor’s message to his congregation was to emphasize the merits of perseverance and commitment and to teach them about the struggle to erect a fitting tribute to his father’s favorite Civil War hero, General “Stonewall” Jackson. The pastor found it took great courage to persist in the undertaking, as it was opposed by other black groups of the time. 

Downing strongly believed that had he been seeking to honor Abraham Lincoln, things would have been very different. There would have been gifts and donations, in spite of the fact that at the beginning of the war, Abraham Lincoln had been reluctant to make ending slavery a primary war aim. What was more, Lincoln’s favorite Union general, Ulysses S. Grant, had owned a few slaves before the war. Few truly understood Reverend Lilburn L. Downing’s cause, and he was greatly ridiculed for his actions. Yet the pastor continued to relate to his Sunday Bible class the story of his father’s Confederate hero and the deep and close relationship the two men, black and white, shared.

On this day, Pastor Reverend Lilburn L. Downing, whose father had been Jim Lewis and his uncle Tyler Lewis, was celebrating the birthday of his father’s Confederate Civil War hero, Stonewall Jackson. The reverend looked up again at the stained glass window that had been made in the general’s honor. He began to tell the tale of the orphaned twin slave boys who had belonged to General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson of Lexington County, Virginia, who was a constable of Lewis County, an instructor of artillery tactics, and a member of the Lexington Presbyterian Church.    Please CLICK HERE to purchase a sign by artist Giclee 16" x 20" wall art print, The above text is from the book Unlce T and the Uppity Spy that inspired this painting:

 

The Promotion

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Some black men volunteered to fight for the Confederacy out of loyalty to their homeland. For example, a militia of 440 free black men formed up in Louisiana and vowed to put their lives on the line to save the Confederacy from the Union power. 

At the same time, slaves had been fleeing behind Union lines since early in the war. Some stayed with the army and helped out. Then black soldiers were mustered for the Union army as part of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. In 1864, close to the end of the war, such luminaries of the Confederacy as Major-General Patrick Cleburne (the "Stonewall of the West," Jefferson Davis (the president of the Confederacy) and Robert E. Lee (the commander of the CSA's armed forces) agreed that slaves should be both armed and freed if they fought on the Southern side. 

Serving with the Confederate State’s Army, Jim had his own personal ways of understanding when the general was about to do battle. When he would see the general praying two or three times in a night, and it was then that Jim would know, with nary a word said by Jackson, that battle was near. With this personal insight, Jim would know to have Jackson’s haversack and his meals packed for the next morning, along with a saddled and ready Little Sorrel, so as to facilitate the general’s giving the Yankees purest hell.

Jim would brook no disrespect when the general was praying either, for he knew the master general meant business when talking to God. Jim demanded that everyone in proximity of Jackson understand and appreciate the deadly seriousness of his master’s petitions to his God. As a deeply religious man himself, Jim spent his share of time on his knees as well.  Please CLICK HERE to purchase a sign by artist Giclee 16" x 20" wall art print, Here is text from the book Unlce T and the Uppity Spy that inspired this painting:

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When the slave Lewis boys had the opportunity to frolic and play with the slave children of the neighboring plantations, they would all play games like “Hide the Switch,” where a child would hide a simple switch cut from the branch of a tree. Who ever found it would then chase the others and attempt to whip them. Tyler, however, preferred spying on people.

Even after almost eleven hours of work, the Lewis boys, Tyler and Jim, would play like any other children. Play was an essential part of their lives; they reinterpreted stressful situations and the behavior of whites into games such as pretend slave auctions. Jim would always volunteer to impersonate the white man, the buyer of slaves, while the other children pretended to be the auctioneer and the rest of the participants. It was in this way that they would conduct a simulated slave sale, saying such things as “De highest bidder get to buy you and take you to his plantation.” Then Jim would say such things as, “Let’s see de teeth o’ dis fine buck.” 

Playing marbles was a favorite pastime. Jim and Tyler had once been taken to a marbles tournament where they had competed against other slaves as well as the children of the masters of the neighboring plantations. It was common for white children to play with their slave peers at an early age, though the practice of shared play would cease between the ages of six and eight. That was when the white children went off to school. 

Tyler took great pleasure in defeating the white children by displaying his superior skill at marbles, as he did at Jackson’s estate. Even after almost eleven hours of work, the Lewis boys, Tyler and Jim, would play like any other children.    CLICK HERE to purchase a sign by artist Giclee 16" x 20" wall art print, The above text from the book Unlce T and the Uppity Spy is what inspired this painting:  

Two Faces of Uncle Tom

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These days, the term “Uncle Tom” can hold two distinct meanings. The first is spun out of the derivative adaptations of Harriet Stowe’s original novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin: “Uncle Tom” means a docile and ridiculously subservient black person who is particularly happy in being the underclass to white people and complicit in the oppression of others of his or her community. The second is the ambitious black person who “sells out” by joining mainstream society or the middle class by getting educated and objectively acts superior or turns their back on their community or where they came from just to climb the economic or social ladder.

Both definitions have these “Uncle Toms” overly identify with whites either from fear or opportunity, usually to their undoing or their loss of personal individuality and history. Both definitions are overly simplified and stray from the original portrayal of the Uncle Tom character. This over-simplification and contortion of the original story is a common problem in today’s media, especially when related to race relations in today’s America.

For everyone tossing the term around, it’s clear that a vast majority of them do not know who Uncle Tom really was: a black man, beaten to death by white slave owners while trying to protect others in his community. This Uncle Tom from the original novel is a Christ-like figure. This was the author’s original intention before pro-slavery entertainers took it and twisted it into the derogatory term we use today. Stowe was presenting an argument that slavery was inherently not Christian that slaves were human and to enslave them did not adhere to Christian ideals. The proliferation of the term in today’s world only shows the continued comfort we as a society have with violence, and the general apprehension we have when it comes to peace.

We as a nation and as the human race are battling a civil war within ourselves – and it will take more than bombs and guns and street violence to win that war.

Artist, writer, and publisher Gregory Newson has been working his whole life as an activist for the black community. He points out some of the real “Uncle Toms” in today’s society: “It’s the rap artists – many of them are paid by white-owned record labels to perform lyrics that degrade themselves and black women. These are the closest to ‘Toms.’”

It is still a hot button issue among African-Americans, which is why Gregory Newson tackled the subject head-on in his new book Uncle T and the Uppity Spy. 

To become a part of the conversation, please purchase your 16 x 20" Giclee wall print, signed by the atist, from the book Newson’s book Uncle T and the Uppity Spy

CLICK HERE to purchase a sign by artist Giclee 16" x 20" wall art print, The above text from the book Unlce T and the Uppity Spy is what inspired this painting:

Truth-Lies

The winner always gets to tell their version of the story!

The purpose of Newson Publishing is to relay history in an enjoyable way.

Fiction, as someone once said, lies to tell the truth. Sometimes stories enliven historical facts. This is historical fiction’s purpose. Of course, it is important to distinguish fact from fiction so that history is not distorted. Newson Publishing books contain historically accurate side bar notes in addition to the fictionalized stories. Yet fictionalized stories of the very real people who participated in and made history may lend us special insights to tell the truth so we can get to the essence of the people involved.  

Over the years scholars have postulated a number of theories about what Harriet Beecher Stowe was trying to say with her seminal novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Aside from the obvious themes, such as condemning slavery, Stowe spoke through her characters on other themes as well, including through the famous character Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom was not the culprit in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom was a brave man with dignity who cared about his family and race. He was a man of loyalty and of his word. Because he had given his word of honor to return to his Southern master after a trip that could have led to his freedom, Tom returned to slavery. When later in the book the vile overseer has Tom whipped for an imaginary infraction, Uncle Tom does not fight back. In fact, he fights in prayer for the souls of his tormentors and dies a death so Christ-like, his very torturers are converted on the spot. To be stricken and not strike back takes tremendous courage. We should all be such Uncle Toms.

No one exemplified this kind of courage better than Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.” Dr. King’s words and actions were not those of a fearful man, unwilling to take risks and who submitted to an unjust society. That is the traditional understanding of an “Uncle Tom,” and indeed Dr. King was called an “Uncle Tom” by fiery young black leaders. Yet in fact, Dr. King sacrificed his own safety to challenge a nation to believe in its own Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal.

This brave man changed society in ways that those who called him an “Uncle Tom” could not. Some black leaders labeled Dr. King this way, never understanding that his courage and conviction paved the way for them to gain an audience with white America.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. When people misinterpreted the greatness of the character of Uncle Tom, when they called Dr. King submissive and servile in Uncle Tom’s name, and even today, when music industry rappers portray black women as b*tches and their brother as n#gg#rs, they are undermining the march toward a common humanity that embraces black and white, male and female, and all different socio-economic classes and ethnicities. It is they who are truly cooperating with oppression and using every opportunity to undermine and degrade other blacks rather than uplifting them.

Newson Publishing is committed to do a series of Uncle T books that showcases human relationships on a one-on-one basis that moves far ahead of race and political correctness and helps us to understand the motives of people in history and in our own day. Things are not all “black and white” in either history or contemporary society. We are all part of humanity, struggling to find meaning, purpose, and dignity–a struggle we will only win if we work together. 

Our stories are about marginalized groups which now are just beginning to emerge, and the outlines of their stories remain dim. Putting the marginalized people of history into dramatic situations (often no more dramatic than the real circumstances they faced) and fictionalizing their lives by contrast is how Newson Publications hopes to inspire young people to take a deeper, second look at history. We hope to bring history to life through dramatic and meaningful story-telling accompanied by stunning art work that is available both as artwork illustrations within the books, ebooks, and as wall display poster prints suitable for framing.

Uncle T and the Uppity Spy is a young adult Civil War story, 58 pages long in the hard version. Based loosely on historical events and people, it is in no way meant to be historically accurate. It is intended to be an exploration of the concept of “field slaves” and “house slaves” first articulated in the speech “Message to the Grass Roots” by Malcolm X in Detroit, Michigan on November 10, 1963. 

The leading characters of the story are black twin boys; Jim and Tyler Lewis are slaves in the antebellum South who are raised in the household of the military hero Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson after their mother dies in childbirth. Jim Lewis a historical, real black Confederate and was a loyal servant to General Thomas Stonewall Jackson and others. 

 

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Uncle T and the Uppity Spy-Adult version book is not sold in bookstores

Newson Publishing's young adult book Uncle T and the Uppity Spy, is about Jackson's relationship with Jim Lewis, his slave, right-hand-man, and confidante. Stonewall Jackson defended the Virginian Southern lifestyle and state sovereignty; yet he was a pioneering educator and helper of blacks–facts which are little known when we think of the Confederate war hero. 

The manipulation of the dynamics of race relations in America in order to advance political agendas is a tired and never-ending game that may well be one of the most enduring legacies of the Civil War and its aftermath.

This book might be misinterpreted by some in much the same way that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was considered by the South to be Northern propaganda–an effort to bamboozle people about the truth about slavery. It might even be considered an effort to glorify an “Uncle Tom” rather than an attempt to recognize a man of character who made his mark in history at a time when history was trying to repress him in every possible way. 

In fact this book is an attempt to look at things beyond black and white into human responses to the situations they find themselves in. The depiction of Stonewall Jackson is an attempt to see this man as the complex, many-faceted person he was. He was not only the great hero of the Southern cause and a thorn in the side of the North. He was a man capable of very human feelings toward his slave Jim Lewis and toward slaves and blacks in the South in general. He was something of a “Johnny Appleseed” of an educated black ministry in the South, a Christian who took all of God’s children into consideration, and he should be remembered for this as much or more than for his battlefield prowess. 

“You may eliminate me from your circle, but I will draw a bigger circle and include you!” 
–Maya Angelou

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The Chandler Boys; Due out in book stores December 2015

The Chandler Boys–Story is about Andrew and Silas Chandler –This is about trust and devotion and the some reason why silence this Afro-American became a black Confederate. Andrew white was younger than Silas, and Silas was a slave born on Andrew’s father’s homestead in 1837, which is why the two shared a last name.
When Andrew enlisted in the Palo Alto Confederates in 1861 in Mississippi, Silas entered into service with him. Although he went as Andrew’s protector and body servant, Andrew demonstrated in-house story that Silas was the equal of any man in his hatred of Northern intrusions into Southern territory. In the introduction pages; A famous Tintype ambrotypes glass plate negs lithograph shows the two men sitting side by side, dressed for battle.


Silas had already been “papered out” of slavery by this time and went voluntarily to look after Andrew. The book presents the conditions know procedures and circumstances that happened to soldiers of the Confederacy as prisoners,  Andrew was captured after the Battle of Shiloh and was imprisoned in Ohio, Silas traversed the area between Mississippi and Ohio many times with provisions, serving Andrew’s needs in the federal prison. At no time did Silas take the opportunity to “escape.” When Andrew was released, the two rejoined their regiment.


Legend has it that Silas’s ingenuity and devotion to Andrew continued when he intervened with the amputation of Andrew’s leg after Chickamauga and saved his master-friend both in life and limb. Andrew also intervened on Silas’s behalf after the war when his home was threatened by marauding whites and made sure his old friend was care for financially.


In 1994 a Southern Cross was placed on Silas’s grave in honor of his service to the Confederate cause. The famous picture portrait of the pair shows trust and familiarity in one another’s company and is the only historical proof of a black Confederate.

 

Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall Jackson and Jim Lewis Historical Friendship

Newson Publishing's young adult book Uncle T and the Uppity Spy, book is about Jackson's relationship with Jim Lewis, his slave, right-hand-man, and confidante.   Stonewall Jackson defended the Virginian Southern lifestyle and state sovereignty; yet he was a pioneering educator and helper of blacks-facts which are little known when we think of the Confederate war hero. What was more, his slave Jim Lewis felt a heartfelt devotion to Jackson that could not have been born out of mistreatment or condescension. 

Newson Publishing goal with this book and art show is to shed light on the complicated history of racism and the Civil War, to show people as individuals rather than icons or targets of hate, so that we may know and learn from them as human beings.  PREVIEW LINK

Newson Publishing fictionalized the truth so we can get to the essence of the people involved. For example, a man of mythological proportions-General Stonewall Jackson-is lauded by a fictional character for Jackson’s very non-fictional contributions to the growth of the black church in the South. Thus we unlock the truth of the man; he was a seed-spreader of the Christian faith among slaves and free blacks because he saw them as God’s children. 

Uncle T and the Uppity Spy tells the fictionalized story of two young black brothers whose life paths diverge into very different directions during the Civil War era. The young black boy Jim Lewis is chosen to be a house slave to Thomas J. Jackson (soon to become General “Stonewall” Jackson) while living on Jackson’s farm. Jim’s manners, intelligence, and character impress Jackson and endear the boy to him. When the war comes, a mature Jim serves as General Jackson’s trusted body servant. The two men grow close, and Jackson respects Jim’s loyalty and wisdom so much that he sometimes lets Jim serve as an adviser. Jim enjoys such a strong bond with the General that he has authority beyond his station in life, and sometimes the men get jealous of the general’s obvious favor toward the young man. General Jackson even allows Jim to decide on his horse, Little Sorrel, trusting that Jim understands the merit of the beast underneath the horse’s ordinary appearance. 

Jim’s brother, Tyler, on the other hand, is consigned to life as a field hand on General Jackson’s plantation, and he suffers mistreatment at the hands of Jackson’s harsh overseer. The life of a field hand and house slave are contrasted in the experiences of these boys. Tyler’s attitude is the opposite of Jim’s; he is angry, bitter, and defiant, and he is only too glad to escape and join the Union cause, fighting against his oppressors. 

Eventually army officials recognize that Tyler has a twin who is the body servant of Stonewall Jackson, and they arrange a “switch” between the two young men in order to gain information on troop movements and plans from within the general’s own camp. Tyler infiltrates the camp and accomplishes his mission, avoiding personal contact with Jackson, whom he is sure would be astute enough to know he is Jim’s look-alike, not Jim himself. Then the twins are switched back again, and each resumes his duties on his respective side. 

At one point Tyler is given a chance to get back at his old overseer, and he takes full advantage of the opportunity. This does not sit well with the white soldiers Tyler is stationed with, however, and they take their own vengeance on Tyler with “friendly fire.” 

Despite the differences in their situations and attitudes, Jim and Tyler remain close throughout the story, with Jim grieving his brother’s death and both brothers risking a great deal to visit and help one another whenever they can. Their love for one another, beyond circumstances, shines through. In some ways, the two twins represent the divided soul of black people who find themselves in the position of feeling bitterness, anger, and a desire for vengeance for all the injustices done to them by white society, like Tyler, and those who, like Jim, are able to enter into close emotional relationships with white people, as Jim did with General Jackson, to appreciate the good things some have done for their community, and to feel deep and abiding loyalty to the land of their birth as well as the commitment to do the best that they can in the circumstances of life they find themselves in, cultivating their characters, faith, and gifts. 

Much historical information is contained in the book. Stylistically, this is achieved through sidebars that give background information to explain some of the underpinnings of the fictional story. The story itself, although based on real people and real events, takes poetic license in several places. One controversial point might be the death of Stonewall Jackson by friendly fire. The book implies that the general’s own spoken misgivings about slavery and “the cause” might have led some of his own men to shoot him. 

General Jackson comes across as a sympathetic and admirable character. The book is introduced through a speech by Reverend Lilburn L. Downing who dedicated a stained glass window in a church to General Stonewall Jackson. The window is engraved with Jackson’s last words, “Let us cross over the window and rest under the shade of the trees.” Reverend Downing honors Thomas Jackson’s dedication to teaching black people to read and write before the Civil War. He mentions Jackson’s founding of a Sunday school for slaves and free blacks because of Jackson’s devotion to Christianity and his belief that part of the white responsibility toward blacks was to bring them to salvation, especially in light of what Jackson saw as their tremendous responsiveness to God. 

The book tries to show human beings as they are–complex mixtures of right and wrong, and capable of love even across social and enemy lines.