SC State University and Orangeburg Community Conduct Book Signing in Honor of Zimmerman

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ahead of her TimeAuthor Kibibi Voloria Mack-Shelton will sign copies of her recently published book, “Ahead of Her Time in Yesteryear,” on Friday, March 4, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. in the Miller F. Whittaker Library, located on the campus of SC State University.  The book signing is sponsored by Friends of the Miller F. Whittaker Library, Beta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, The Sunlight Club and the Orangeburg Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Released in December 2010, “Ahead of Her Time in Yesteryear” highlights the life of Orangeburg native and SC State alumna, Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman,’46, who will celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday, March 5, 2011.

“I was so honored to be able to write about such an amazing woman, and I’m even more excited about conducting a book signing in her honor,” says Mack-Shelton. 

Mrs. Z, as she is affectionately known by her peers, earned a reputation as a maverick in her lifelong home of Orangeburg, S.C., a semirural community where race and class were very much governed by the Jim Crow Laws.  Educated at Nashville’s Fisk University, Zimmerman returned to Orangeburg to teach school, serve her community, and champion equal rights for African Americans and women. 

“March is Women’s History Month, and it’s special because we are commemorating the lives of many black women, particularly Mrs. Z who was born during this month,” noted Mack-Shelton.  “For me to be able to capture some of her history makes this month much richer.”

In her book, Mack-Shelton offers a vivid portrayal of the kind of black family seldom recognized for its role in the development of the African-American community after the Civil War.  At a time when “separate but equal” usually meant suffering and injustice for the black community, South Carolina families such as the Tatnalls, Pierces and Zimmermans achieved a level of financial and social success rivaling that of many white families. Shelton-Mack also draws heavily on the oral accounts of Zimmerman as she speaks on the lives of the African-American elite of the early 20th century.

“After Mrs. Z and I conducted formal interviews for the book, I continued to listen to her recollections of her childhood experiences.  During these chit-chats, I grew more fascinated about how southern African-American families reared their children in the early 20th century, and particularly, how they reared their female children compared to their male offspring,” says Mack-Shelton.  “The more she talked about her youth, both humorously and seriously, the more interested I was becoming in the person herself and realized that she was sharing a culture that has been totally lost or revised in Black families, and more importantly, a history that has continually been overlooked in modern scholarship.”

Adrienne Webber, dean of the Miller F. Whittaker library, adds that this book signing is a testament to Zimmerman’s life and the service she’s given to the Orangeburg community. “When SC State librarian Doris Johnson-Felder brought the book to my attention, I instantly felt that we had to highlight this book at the library,” says Webber. “The book signing further signifies the importance of  Mrs. Zimmerman’s life, service and sacrifices that can be shared with the community, and what better place to do this than where she spent many of her years teaching at South Carolina State University.”

Mack-Shelton currently teaches at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. and is the author and editor of numerous scholarly publications, including History and Women, Culture and Faith: Selected Writings of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Volume 2.  She has held the former Tyler and Alice Haynes Endowed Chair of American Studies at the University of Richmond.

For more information on Dr. Kibibi Mack-Shelton’s book signing, call the Miller F. Whittaker Library at (803) 536-7045.