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Charles M. Clemmons
Aila's Journal: A Tale of Reconstruction
In 1863, two thirteen-year-old girl laborers meet on a farm south of Wilmington, North Carolina. Aila MacKenzie is a White indentured servant, and Mary Jane Sanders is a Black slave. As the story unfolds, both suffer similar hardship and abuse that over time will spawn mutual empathy and friendship. With historical events as a backdrop, the story depicts the struggle of White and Black families in rural North Carolina during and following the Civil War, 1863-1919. For the Black families, it is an era of continuing repression, bigotry, and violence. The Civil War leaves the South, the community, and personal lives in shambles. Jubilation over the emancipation of the slaves is replaced by oppression, discrimination, hatred, and violence toward Blacks and their sympathizers that culminate in the 1898 riot and coup d’état in Wilmington. Despite the racial tension that surrounds them, Aila and Mary Jane form a lifelong bond as they overcome similar hardships through strength of character, perseverance, and faith.