Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter's Civil Rights Journey

Overview


Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus chronicles the story of an American family against the backdrop of one of the civil rights movement’s lesser-known stories. In January 1957, Joseph Spagna and five other young men waited to board a city bus called the Sunnyland in Tallahassee, Florida. Their plan was simple but dangerous: ride the bus together—three blacks and three whites—get arrested, and take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fifty years ...
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Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter's Civil Rights Journey

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Overview


Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus chronicles the story of an American family against the backdrop of one of the civil rights movement’s lesser-known stories. In January 1957, Joseph Spagna and five other young men waited to board a city bus called the Sunnyland in Tallahassee, Florida. Their plan was simple but dangerous: ride the bus together—three blacks and three whites—get arrested, and take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fifty years later Ana Maria Spagna sets off on a journey to understand what happened and why.
 
Spagna travels from her remote mountain home in the Pacific Northwest to contemporary Tallahassee, searching for the truth of the incident and her father’s involvement. Her journey is complicated by the fact that her father never spoke of the Sunnyland experience and died unexpectedly when she was eleven. Seeking out the other bus riders, now in their seventies, Spagna tries to make sense of their conflicting stories. Her odyssey becomes further troubled by the sudden diagnosis of her mother’s terminal cancer.
 
Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction prize, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus deftly weaves cultural and personal history, memoir, and reportage in this fascinating look at a family and a nation’s past.
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Editorial Reviews

Literary Review

"With this new and nuanced memoir, Ana Maria Spagna shows us yet another facet of herself. In the field of universal human questions, "Who am I?" takes a close second to the simple yet elegant, "Why?" The author crosscuts through both in Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus."—Ann Beman, Literary Review

— Ann Beman

Raven Chronicles

"[Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus is] a personal journey, filled with revelation after revelation about humanity and family and self."—Joe Ponepinto, Raven Chronicles

— Joe Ponepinto

Kathleen Finneran

Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus stands as a magnificent testament and tribute to the lives of many people—Ana Maria Spagna’s parents, the many patriots of the civil rights movement, and the citizens of communities far and wide, large and small. Her surprising story renewed my awe in the interconnectedness of all of our lives and affirmed that the current championing of hope in our country is a hope deserving of all its fervor.”—Kathleen Finneran, author of The Tender Land: A Family Love Story
Danielle Trussoni

Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus is an absorbing story of a daughter’s search to understand her father’s involvement in the civil rights movement. While Ana Maria Spagna’s ability to capture the nuances of her father’s life is impressive, it is the wonder and persistence she brings to her tale that make this such an engaging book. Any daughter who has puzzled over the mystery of her heritage will love Spagna from the get-go.”—Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth

MultiCultural Review

"Test Ride is the story of Ana Maria’s voyage of personal discovery, as much autobiography as biography, as she comes to terms with memories and family relationships."—Paul T. Murray, MultiCultural Review

— Paul T. Murray

ForeWord - Teresa Scollon

"A beautifully written account."—Teresa Scollon, ForeWord
Literary Review - Ann Beman

"With this new and nuanced memoir, Ana Maria Spagna shows us yet another facet of herself. In the field of universal human questions, "Who am I?" takes a close second to the simple yet elegant, "Why?" The author crosscuts through both in Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus."—Ann Beman, Literary Review
Raven Chronicles - Joe Ponepinto

"[Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus is] a personal journey, filled with revelation after revelation about humanity and family and self."—Joe Ponepinto, Raven Chronicles
MultiCultural Review - Paul T. Murray

"Test Ride is the story of Ana Maria's voyage of personal discovery, as much autobiography as biography, as she comes to terms with memories and family relationships."—Paul T. Murray, MultiCultural Review
Kathleen Finneran
"Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus stands as a magnificent testament and tribute to the lives of many people-Ana Maria Spagna's parents, the many patriots of the civil rights movement, and the citizens of communities far and wide, large and small. Her surprising story renewed my awe in the interconnectedness of all of our lives and affirmed that the current championing of hope in our country is a hope deserving of all its fervor."

-Kathleen Finneran, author of The Tender Land: A Family Love Story

Danielle Trussoni
"Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus is an absorbing story of a daughter's search to understand her father's involvement in the civil rights movement. While Ana Maria Spagna's ability to capture the nuances of her father's life is impressive, it is the wonder and persistence she brings to her tale that make this such an engaging book. Any daughter who has puzzled over the mystery of her heritage will love Spagna from the get-go."

-Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth

ForeWord

"A beautifully written account."—Teresa Scollon, ForeWord

— Teresa Scollon

Kathleen Finneran

Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus stands as a magnificent testament and tribute to the lives of many people—Ana Maria Spagna’s parents, the many patriots of the civil rights movement, and the citizens of communities far and wide, large and small. Her surprising story renewed my awe in the interconnectedness of all of our lives and affirmed that the current championing of hope in our country is a hope deserving of all its fervor.”—Kathleen Finneran, author of The Tender Land: A Family Love Story

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803217126
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Series: River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 911,300
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Ana Maria Spagna is the author of Now Go Home: Wilderness, Belonging, and the Crosscut Saw, which was named a Best Book of 2004 by the Seattle Times. Her work has appeared widely in publications such as Orion, Utne Reader, and North American Review. She lives and writes in Stehekin, Washington.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Think I can serve

1 In Front of Speed's 3

2 Never Go Back 16

3 The Tallahassee Bus Boycott 27

4 The Acquaintance of Grief 39

5 The Forgotten Coast 54

6 Something More 67

Part 2 A Highly Personal Thing

7 Handwriting 81

8 Herndon 94

9 The Cloven Hoof 104

10 City of Hope 118

11 Folsom 134

12 Community Care 147

13 A Real Difference 158

14 Orchard Burning 172

Part 3 Fiftieth Anniversary

15 Every. Single. Day. 189

16 Tarpon Springs 209

17 Not Forgotten 220

18 Heroes and Sheroes 236

19 Always Go Forward 252

Epilogue: No Big Deal 262

Acknowledgments 269

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