A Toledo author that graduated from Scott High, Mildred D. Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on September 13, 1943, to Wilbert Lee Taylor and Deletha Marie Davis Taylor. Life in the racially segregated South was difficult and sometimes unpleasant for Wilbert Taylor, so a few weeks after Taylor’s birth, he boarded a train bound for Ohio hoping to establish a home in the North where his family would have opportunities that wouldn’t be possible in Mississippi.
In her junior year (1960), Mildred was the class secretary, and active in the Junior Y-Teens, the Imagination Unlimited Club (a writer’s club), and the publication staff of The Scott Thistle (monthly publication of the journalism class). She graduated in 1961 and adding French club to her Scott High School activities. After high school, she went to the University of Toledo graduating with a bachelor’s in education in 1965 and followed that with two years with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. She received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado where she resides.
Taylor developed Logan Family Saga first with the prize-winning short story “Song of the Trees”. One year later, she published “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” that she told her father would win the Newberry Award for children’s literature. She did but he had died before it was even published. She went on to do a series of Logan Family books through the next decade with the last one being Logan. Taylor has made clear that even though these stories are fiction they are curated from her own history. Her 1987 novel for elementary children is the “Gold Cadillac” which is immortalized at Toledo Lucas County Public Library — Main children’s space with a Gold Cadillac children can crawl into and they do! This is her own story of traveling from Ohio south in the 1950s and experience segregation and “Whites Only” bathrooms.
In her ALAN speech, Taylor talked how some people have challenged her novels by maintaining that her portrayal of racism is too harsh for young readers. She even admitted that while writing The Land, she debated about using words that would have been used in the late nineteenth century because readers might object to them. “But just as I have had to be honest with myself in the telling of all my stories,” Taylor remarked, “I realize I must be true to the feelings of the people about whom I write and true to the stories told. My stories might not be ’politically correct,’ so there will be those who will be offended, but as we all know, racism is offensive.”
In 2020, Taylor published, “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” which takes the Logan family up to the civil rights movement and the often violent confrontations to change in equality.
Personal reflection from Linda: My first library that I was “in-charge” of was Perryville Middle School, in Maryland. I started with 400 books – 213 students – one set of encyclopedias and an aid for 3 hours a week in fall 1977! The first books I ordered were paperback/permabound Newberry books, biographies and some magazines and that used my entire budget – I had a lot to learn! When Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry arrived, it was seldom on the self, always checked. In my mind’s eye I can still see the cover and the worn edges after just a year.
More information about this amazing woman: