• Blood Done Sign My Name

  • A True Story
  • By: Timothy B. Tyson
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (189 ratings)

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Blood Done Sign My Name  By  cover art

Blood Done Sign My Name

By: Timothy B. Tyson
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
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Publisher's Summary

The “riveting”* true story of the fiery summer of 1970, which would forever transform the town of Oxford, North Carolina - a classic portrait of the fight for civil rights in the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird (*Chicago Tribune)

On May 11, 1970, Henry Marrow, a 23-year-old Black veteran, walked into a crossroads store owned by Robert Teel and came out running. Teel and two of his sons chased and beat Marrow, then killed him in public as he pleaded for his life. 

Like many small Southern towns, Oxford had barely been touched by the civil rights movement. But in the wake of the killing, young African Americans took to the streets. While lawyers battled in the courthouse, the Klan raged in the shadows and Black Vietnam veterans torched the town’s tobacco warehouses. Tyson’s father, the pastor of Oxford’s all-White Methodist church, urged the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. In the end, however, the Tyson family was forced to move away.  

Tim Tyson’s gripping narrative brings gritty blues truth and soaring gospel vision to a shocking episode of our history. 

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

“If you want to read only one book to understand the uniquely American struggle for racial equality and the swirls of emotion around it, this is it.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Blood Done Sign My Name is a most important book and one of the most powerful meditations on race in America that I have ever read.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Pulses with vital paradox...It’s a detached dissertation, a damning dark-night-of-the-white-soul, and a ripping yarn, all united by Tyson’s powerful voice, a brainy, booming Bubba profundo.” (Entertainment Weekly

“Engaging and frequently stunning.” (San Diego Union-Tribune

©2004 Timothy B. Tyson (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a divison of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Admirable and unexpected...a riveting story that will have his readers weeping with both laughter and sorrow.” (Chicago Tribune)

Blood Done Sign My Name is a most important book and one of the most powerful meditations on race in America that I have ever read.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Engaging and frequently stunning.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)   

What listeners say about Blood Done Sign My Name

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This Is A Very Good Book

Listening to Tyson describe the North Carolina of the 1960s, I was reminded how much the world has changed in the last half century. Ku Klux Klan rallies, widespread white supremacism, corrupt judicial systems -- that culture of hate is almost unrecognizeable today. In addition to solid history and a gripping true crime narrative, the book includes thoughtful sections on nonviolence. Tyson shows that much of the nonviolence movement of the 1960s was a myth, and that violence and physical force were necessary to change our culture. This book is filled with big ideas and big questions, but it is written in a plain style that is easy to understand. It is smart without being difficult. Highly recommended.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

First Person History

Dr. Tyson combines careful -- and compassionate -- research with personal experiences to display what it was like to live in Eastern North Carolina in the racial turbulent 1960s and 1970s. This is a very powerful book to hear in the intimacy of earphones.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

About the myths Americans tell themselves

Americans love their sanitized, After-School Special version of the civil rights movement, in which we've progressed inevitably from the bad old days of slavery to the modern day where racism is just the occasional gaffe that gets a news commentator fired or a few hicks wearing sheets way off in the boonies. Tim Tyson strips away this mythology in his story of a black man who was murdered in 1970 by a violent, mean-tempered white business owner, allegedly for flirting with his daughter-in-law. Six years after the Civil Rights Act, Oxford, North Carolina was still a segregated town where white supremacy ruled, unapologetically. But when the all-white jury acquitted Robert Teal even of any lesser charge like manslaughter, the town's African American population rose up in outrage, and Oxford's businesses burned.

Decades later, Tyson, who was eleven years old at the time, and whose father was a liberal white desegregationist minister who was subsequently driven out of town, came back to interview everyone involved, including the murderer, Robert Teal. Blood Done Sign My Name is the result of that project, but it's also a look at how Americans have always lied to themselves about our country's race relations, and continue to do so to this day. Slave owners said, "Our slaves are like part of the family." In the 1990s, Tyson took a group of students to a Southern plantation that had been the site of a bloody slave uprising, and found it turned into an antebellum theme park with hardly any mention of slavery. The murder of Henry Marrow is really just a small part of this story.

This book was what became Tyson's Master's thesis, and it's powerful and engaging and contains many truths that still bear repeating, over and over.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very few books have made me sob

I could not bring myself to read this book for a long, long time. As a 39 year old Black man from Reidsville, NC these horrific events occurred less than 100 miles from where I grew up and less than a decade before I was born. This book forced me to confront the fact that the horror of racism isn't something that happened in the past as the past is closer to the present than it is to history.

I escaped by the grace of God. I lead a middle class lifestyle. My parents don't speak of the past. They have locked it away. If not for books like this then the history would be lost. Losing that history would be a greater tragedy for blood done sign my name.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Strange story

I would not recommend this audiobook. It is a really strange book. I thought that I was getting a story, but after listening for about an hour and it is only a hodge-podge of facts about the author's family. It is really difficult to follow and understand exactly how the book is progressing. I am not sure whether the book just starts really slow and eventually gets better or if it continues to drone on with the strange family history lessons. I finally had to stop the audio after about an hour to find something else to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Must Listen

This book is well read and a must read/listen for everyone in America.

The story reveals great insight on the very recent history of American Civil Rights and the all too prominent American Amnesia.

This book is very timely and well written. Easy to listen to in a car, and it will keep you awake on those long drives.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent and Eloquent

Incredible and gripping account that is a well told biography, an account of a racist murder in Oxford North Carolina, and thoughtful history of American history, a history that is not taught in schools. "We want to transcend history without actually confronting it", and the past, sadly is also the present. This is a masterpiece and fully recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic!

A must read for any native North Carolinian. A book that can change outlooks and lives.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

A good SLEEPER

This book is very good at putting a person to sleep. If one has an insomniac problem then this would rid you of it immediately. After reading one page...not even...a half a page one falls asleep. It is a very hard book to get into and to tell the truth i could not get into it at all...and i usually can get into books very easily.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So Enlighten

To hear of such a horrific and unfortunately too common story that's based out of your home state and only 2.5 hours from your home town is definitely a different read.