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I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know: A Southern White Woman's Story About Race

I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know: A Southern White Woman's Story About Race


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Dorothy grew up in the Jim Crow South the youngest child of six in the height of The Great Depression. Feeling left out and isolated as she came of age, she kept seeking her place in a world of what she viewed the Big People. As a college student she took part in an inter-racial experiment with Negro students across town. Afterwards, she sought out more such experiences and found them. Soon afterwards, she spent an entire summer in a racially diverse environment and left with the revelation to "do something on the inter-racial level" after graduation. Her newfound commitment allowed her to witness several historical moments in Civil Rights history in the years to come. All the while she put off marriage and motherhood for nearly two decades, as she learned about the role Race had played in her life. After marriage, she continued to teach others the lessons she had learned.

After being widowed and raising her only child, Dorothy retired and finally began to write her story well into her senior years when she was diagnosed with dementia. Despite this challenge, she kept writing and fighting for Civil Rights in both big and small ways. When her daughter Kaypri realized her mother could no longer write a sentence, she picked up the baton, and gifted this story to her mother for her 80th birthday. (YouTube)

This story is the result of a daughter's tremendous love for her unsung and pioneering mother.

The Rave Reviews!

"...readers will be touched not only by her story but by her daughter's dedication in bringing it to light. ...A vote of thanks to Dorothy for helping to create our new, more open and inclusive American future."
- HETTIE JONES Author, How I Became Hettie Jones, New School Professor

"What life teaches us is that we have the ability to continue to grow. Spring is a season but also a possibility as there is renewal. I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know shows us renewal at its finest, a wonderful insight."

- NIKKI GIOVANNI Activist, Author, Racism 101, Distinguished Professor of English, Virginia Tech

"Dorothy's work models the healing our nation still has to do to fully embrace both our diversity AND the common humanity of us all."

- VALERIE BATTS Executive Director, VISIONS Inc.

"If Blacks and Whites are going to work together to help our nation live out its democratic ideals they will need to move beyond the misunderstandings and denials about our racial differences and similarities. Dorothy Hampton Marcus invites us into the intimacy of her white family circle to allow us to observe what its like to grow up as a Southern girl and how she became one of the unsung heroines of the movement toward becoming a "'somewhat' more perfect union." For years I have said of her "she is a genuine, good white woman." In this book we get to see what helped to make her such a remarkable human rights activist."

- DR. JAMES A. FORBES The Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor , Union Theological Seminary and Senior Pastor Emeritus of Riverside Church, New York, NY

"Thank you Kaypri and Dorothy for sharing this story. For all of us waking up to what it means to be white today, it's inspirational to learn that Dorothy's waking up process had continued to be the cornerstone of her life, and what she seems to hold dear as her legacy. She was ahead of her time for sure!"

-DEBBY IRVING Racial Justice Educator, Author of Waking Up White

"An interesting account, told by mother and daughter, of the kind of life which often goes unexamined, but which has a place in history."

- SUSAN STRAIGHT Author, Professor of Creative Writing, University of California Riverside, National Book Award Finalist

KAYPRI - FOUNDER, Priscilla Belle Productions
Twitter: @dorothyknows @kaypri @kaypribabygirl

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781489593726
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 03/09/2014
Pages: 284
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

About Dorothy:

Dorothy grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the youngest of six during Jim Crow and the Great Depression. In the 1950s, when her personal feelings of isolation pushed her to seek her place in the world, she "fell" into what would become her life's mission doing work on the "inter-racial" level, well before the terms Race Relations or white privilege were coined.

Her newfound commitment took her on a journey working throughout the U.S. where witnessed several historical moments and people in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Putting off marriage and motherhood, she continued to educate herself on what she still didn't know about the role Race played in her life.

After getting married "late" and moving to racially diverse Teaneck, New Jersey, she continued using what she knew to enlighten others as a consultant in the New York area and beyond, well past retirement.

She finally began writing this story in her late sixties, surprised to discover that though she wasn't on the front lines, she too had contributed towards achieving liberty and justice for all.

When dementia took effect in her late seventies, her daughter Kaypri took over the task of completing her mother's book for her 80th birthday.

For more info: I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know page on Facebook

About Kaypri - Editor, Co-Author

A graduate of Howard University's Department of Theater Arts, Kaypri has worked with adolescents for over a decade in the New Jersey suburbs, the Bedstuy/Bushwick sections of Brooklyn , Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the Watts section of Los Angeles with the foster kid advocacy organization, Peace4Kids ( Telling Dorothy's Story will always be her major literary achievement and greatest gift.

As an actor she has been in several indie films and Webisodes (roomieloverfriends, Entangled With You) as well as off-Broadway in NYC with BABYGIRL, her solo play.

Kaypri edited and completed Dorothy's Story and is publishing two of her own projects in 2015. She also has a a screenplay about ACoA's (Adult Children of Alcoholics), an update on Beah Richard's A Black Woman Speaks, and a play about the idea of Saturn's Return, 4ever 27.

She will also be launching her inspirational greeting card line, Priscilla Belle, in honor of her late Aunt Priscilla. (1911-2007).

For more info on the adventures of Babygirl, Kaypri and Beyond, please visit

Customer Reviews