|Darrell Laurant teaching at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference.|
My old friend Darrell Laurant has been busy in his retirement, mostly trying to help other writers make a living; directing his efforts from his new home in New York (his home state). Darrell was the metro columnist for the Lynchburg News & Advance for a quarter century and was the founder of the Sedalia Writers Conference, which inspired the founding (by me) of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference more than nine years ago.
Here is a review of Darrell's fourth book and, I think, his best--certainly his most important. You can order it from Amazon here and it's worth every penny you will spend.
Inspiration Street, a review
There are plenty of famous streets in America, made notable by a wide variety of circumstances. Pierce Street in Lynchburg, named for an ignoble 19th Century president, is not one of them. It should be.
Darrell Laurant has focused his most important book, Inspiration Street: Two City Blocks That Helped Change America (Blackwell Press), on a locally historic portion of Pierce Street, one where African luminaries of the most recently completed century lived, visited, learned and taught. It is the street where Anne Spencer, the notable Lynchburg poet, lived and entertained. It is a street paved with athletic luminaries, educators, military innovators, and even the outrageous and tragic story of a Congo pygmy.
Pierce Street is the center of innovation, two blocks that made a huge difference in the perception of and state of black America. It has most recently been recognized with more historic plaques than any other street in Virginia, but it remains a quiet, placid section in the center of Old Lynchburg, housing older residents.
Laurent’s book does not dwell in sentiment. He is long enough in the tooth and veteran enough in his profession to avoid that, sticking with the story, letting the good ones tell themselves. And this is a good one, an important one, one you should read.