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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. 


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.