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The Pearl of East Texas
In The Pearl of East Texas, Bill Albright provides a rich chronicle of the life of his mother, Mattie Pearl Albright, that sheds light on both a changing period in recent American history and the shifting intricacies of race relations in our society. Mattie grew up in Jim Crow era Shreveport, moved to booming wartime Los Angeles, and lived the last part of her life in Berryville, Texas. With a confident, compassionate, collaborative, and community-minded spirit, she demonstrated how a smart, assertive, and professional African-American woman could provide leadership in her community, whether in largely black post-war Watts or largely white late 20th-century east Texas. The book is especially timely in the light of increasingly complex racial challenges. – Freeman Hrabowski, President; University of Maryland Baltimore County Told in nuanced detail, The Pearl of East Texas paints a factual yet sensitive picture of a woman who brought the best out of her family, a small Texas town and its business community through proven leadership, personal integrity and simple charisma. I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the making of a successful life well lived in 20th-century America. – Knox Singleton, CEO Inova Health System Bill Albright has delivered a thoroughly enjoyable read. While an intensely personal story, the telling of family, geographic, political, racial and social realities of the 1920s through to the present are of global interest. Oral and written histories are combined masterfully, often with humor, in vivid descriptions of the challenges, sadness, joy, perseverance, sacrifices and triumphs experienced by this remarkable woman. The book stretches beyond a simple tribute to Pearl, to provide lessons for us all. – David L. Katz, MD, JD We hear the word hero applied in many situations, because individuals have determined that another’s actions, whether small or significant, occurred at a time and under circumstances when action needed to be taken, and one or more individuals took that action. It could have been the saving of a life, the extinguishing of a fire, the telephone call at the right time, showing bravery when others thought all was lost, the rise of an individual to stand up against the denial of his or her constitutional rights, or the leadership of a civil rights movement that changed a nation. Whether man or woman, each of us has a hero or heroine inside, regardless of whether heroic qualities are demonstrated within our lifetimes. And then there are those individuals who exhibit those qualities, rise and have impact irrespective of their environment and the circumstances in which they live. Such was the case of Mattie Pearl Albright. Born in the early part of the 20th century, Mattie grew up in the Jim Crow era in Shreveport, Louisiana, transitioned to Los Angeles, California during the early 1940s and World War II, and reluctantly moved with her husband William to the East Texas city of Berryville. In each location, she was a standout, whether at her segregated high school in Shreveport, starting and managing one of the few credit unions established for blacks in Los Angeles, or being an avid volunteer, serving on the city council and founding two chambers of commerce in East Texas. She achieved all of this while raising and nurturing a family. This book tells her remarkable and extraordinary story of love, charity, compassion, and leadership.