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Author, Literary Activist

 

In Brief

Susan Follett is an advocate for using stories to increase awareness of history and dismantle the stereotypes that divide us. Having grown up in the shadow and silence of Jim Crow—unaware of the March from Selma scarcely 100 miles from her hometown Meridian, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers disappeared during Freedom Summer—she set out to examine and reimagine the times. The FOG MACHINE was published in 2014 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. As author and public speaker, Susan shares Civil Rights Movement history and her journey of discovery. Her “Stories from Civil Rights History, Then and Now” events help classrooms and communities connect history to today. Her work explores prejudice and what enables change. She lives in St. Paul, MN.

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Susan Follett grew up in the epicenter of the civil rights movement: Mississippi in the sixties. When the first African American stepped into Highland Park’s public pool in Meridian on the same day Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, she was attending summer journalism camp at the University of Mississippi. Her graduating class at Meridian/Harris High School was the first under federally mandated desegregation.

Armed with a masters’ degree in computer science from Mississippi State University, she left Mississippi. Her career in corporate technology management began at the height of the women’s movement and took her to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, the Bay Area of California, and Portland, Oregon.

A television documentary Ms. Follett saw as a young adult, about the March from Selma to Montgomery, haunted her, raising questions about the time and place in which she grew up: Why hadn’t she known the history? And what might be different if she had?

Ultimately, she turned an adult eye on her childhood during Jim Crow, interviewing Civil Rights Movement veterans, historians, and Mississippi residents. The FOG MACHINE is the result of that research and reflection, authentic historical fiction exploring prejudice and what enables change.

Mississippi's McComb High and Washington's The Overlake School adopted The FOG MACHINE in an innovative pilot program for civil rights education which concluded in April 2014. An excerpt from The FOG MACHINE is included in Teaching Tolerance's Perspectives for a Diverse America, an online anti-bias curriculum. 

Ms. Follett is a 2017 McKnight Fellow in Creative Prose. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two children and advocates for inquiry-based civil rights education, enriched by the use of story-based resources, toward the goal of developing democratically patriotic citizens.

 


Author Photo by DANI

 

 


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