With little thought of consequence in the explosive year 1968, troubled young Arkansas farmhand Cotton Mathis joins the National Guard to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. Sixty miles away, Martin Luther King Jr. faces off against a Memphis mayor. Deployed to Memphis for riot control, Cotton and his friends sense only excitement with no understanding for the racial tensions raging across the nation.
News reporter Cecilia Croft Clanton grew up near Memphis and witnessed the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination firsthand.
Clanton has written for the Springdale News, the Arkansas Gazette, and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. In addition, she has experience in the corporate business world and motion-picture industry. She now lives on a Mississippi farm, where she spends time in her oil-painting studio, minding her chickens and writing. She can be reached at: CClan52390@aol.com
For Cotton crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis on a troop bus will be a journey of self-discovery and the peeling away of layers of family loss.
Once in the city, Cotton encounters a black war hero and the soldier’s remarkable, book-loving father–a man who reignites Cotton’s long-buried dreams. Yet these new friends harbor secrets about Cotton’s family, including the true story of his brother’s death. Faced with personal tragedy, betrayal, and overwhelming anger while all around him Memphis reacts to the news Dr. King has been assassinated, Cotton makes a life-changing decision. Will he forgive and become a man, or will he allow his family’s ghosts to haunt him forever?
A coming-of-age story set against the civil rights movement, Cotton Mathis offers a glimpse into a little-known aspect of the era–the resilience and compassion of the Memphis community.