Reviews of Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred Rembert

Chasing Me to My Grave

An Artist's Memoir of the Jim Crow South

by Winfred Rembert

Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred  Rembert X
Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred  Rembert
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Sep 2021, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Ian Muehlenhaus
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Winfred Rembert grew up in a family of Georgia field laborers and joined the Civil Rights Movement as a teenager. He was arrested after fleeing a demonstration, survived a near-lynching at the hands of law enforcement, and spent seven years on chain gangs.

During that time he met the undaunted Patsy, who would become his wife. Years later, at the age of fifty-one and with Patsy's encouragement, he started drawing and painting scenes from his youth using leather tooling skills he learned in prison.

Chasing Me to My Grave presents Rembert's breathtaking body of work alongside his story, as told to Tufts Philosopher Erin I. Kelly. Rembert calls forth vibrant scenes of Black life on Cuthbert, Georgia's Hamilton Avenue, where he first glimpsed the possibility of a life outside the cotton field. As he pays tribute, exuberant and heartfelt, to Cuthbert's Black community and the people, including Patsy, who helped him to find the courage to revisit a traumatic past, Rembert brings to life the promise and the danger of Civil Rights protest, the brutalities of incarceration, his search for his mother's love, and the epic bond he found with Patsy.

Vivid, confrontational, revelatory, and complex, Chasing Me to My Grave is a searing memoir in prose and painted leather that celebrates Black life and summons readers to confront painful and urgent realities at the heart of American history and society.

Excerpt

Illustrated by Winfred Rembert. All artworks made with dye on carved and tooled leather.

It was 1961 or 1962. I was working in Jeff's poolroom. One day I was surprised to see all these Black folk, especially adult Black men, coming in the poolroom. They were all sitting around, having a meeting and talking about civil rights. I never heard people talking about civil rights before. They were NAACP people, though I didn't know it at the time. I thought they were coming in there to shoot pool, but, lo and behold, they were talking about civil rights. It turned out, if I got it right, that Buddy Perkins, the funeral home director, was the headman of the NAACP in Cuthbert. Jeff was some kind of official too, and Jeff's poolroom became the meeting place for talking about ideas, businesses, and civil rights.

Jeff's Cafe
Jeff's Cafe, 1997

Black people in Cuthbert had to sacrifice to make a change. In the 1950s, Ben Shorter Sr. was president of a voters' league in Randolph County. The ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Pulitzer Prize Winners
    2022

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This book was co-written with journalist Erin I. Kelly, who sat down with Winfred every two weeks from 2018 through 2020 and transcribed his memories from biographical interview questions. She then read the pages back to him to make sure she had captured his voice accurately. The result is a masterpiece. The text is raw, candid and blunt. Kelly's organization and faithful transcription allow Rembert's stories to roll off the page as fluidly as they likely did from his mouth. This combination of armchair storytelling with fascinating life events makes Chasing Me to My Grave a compulsive read...continued

Full Review Members Only (668 words).

(Reviewed by Ian Muehlenhaus).

Media Reviews

BookPage (starred review)
Chasing Me to My Grave is a testament to the ways one man used his art to educate, delight and depict the trauma that arises out of memory.

Chicago Review of Books
[A] stunning piece of visual truth-telling...Chasing Me To My Grave documents racial and economic violence under white supremacy as a living history. It also gives us an example of how to live without bitterness or seeking revenge. From Rembert's abandonment by his birth mother to the forced labor on the cotton fields and the abuses of the prison wardens, he remembers his struggle with acceptance, forgiveness, and often gratitude for the lessons he learned from his mistakes.

Booklist (starred review)
This is a book like no other, from Winfred Rembert's unique and uniquely powerful autobiographical paintings to his disturbing and courageous life story...Rembert recounts diabolical abuse and violence with rare candor and precision...By using carved, tooled, and dyed leather as the medium for vibrantly patterned scenes from his life, Rembert turned the scars on his body and soul into artworks of clarion witness and reckoning. With a foreword by Bryan Stevenson and superb color reproductions, Rembert's self-portrait in word and image belongs in every library.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The oral history, as told to co-author Kelly, is thoughtful and honest...An ultimately uplifting journey from the ugliness of virulent racism to the beauty of art.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In this posthumous work, artist Rembert (1945–2021) offers a powerful, unfiltered look at life growing up in Jim Crow Georgia...This is a stunning portrait of hope in the face of evil, barbarity, and racism.

Author Blurb Albert Woodfox, author of Solitary
Winfred Rembert paints a world too little depicted and a reality we can't afford to forget. While testifying to this nation's long history of racial injustice, Chasing Me to My Grave is also a must-read story of Black struggle, solidarity, and love.

Author Blurb Bryan Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative
Rembert's art expresses the legacy of slavery, the trauma of lynching, and the anguish of racial hierarchy and white supremacy while illuminating a resolve to fight oppression and injustice. He has the ability to reveal truths about the human struggle that are transcendent, to evoke an understanding of human dignity that is broad and universal.

Author Blurb Carol Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of White Rage and One Person, No Vote
The power of Rembert's Chasing Me to My Grave is in the unvarnished truth, in the writing, the storytelling, the artwork, his life. Unvarnished literary and visual power.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The 13th Amendment and Contemporary Slavery in the US Prison System

Black and white photo of men wearing white and black striped prison uniforms working on a chain gang in 1915As we all know, slavery was abolished in the United States after the Civil War when Congress passed the 13th Amendment. What many might not recognize is that the 13th Amendment did not ban slavery entirely. In fact, it explicitly states an instance in which slavery and involuntary servitude are permitted — when people are incarcerated. Prisoners can be forced to participate in penal labor without pay.

The 13th Amendment is succinct:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Since the end of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment has been used to persecute ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Chasing Me to My Grave, try these:

  • Buses Are a Comin' jacket

    Buses Are a Comin'

    by Charles Person, Richard Rooker

    Published 2022

    About this book

    A firsthand exploration of the cost of boarding the bus of change to move America forward - written by one of the Civil Rights Movement's pioneers.

  • Waiting for an Echo jacket

    Waiting for an Echo

    by Christine Montross

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More by this author

    Galvanized by her work in our nation's jails, psychiatrist Christine Montross illuminates the human cost of mass incarceration and mental illness

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Atomic Anna
    Atomic Anna
    by Rachel Barenbaum
    If you had the opportunity to prevent one of the world's most horrific disasters, would you? What if...
  • Book Jacket: The Colony
    The Colony
    by Audrey Magee
    The Colony opens with Mr Lloyd, a London artist, being transported to a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) ...
  • Book Jacket: The Return of Faraz Ali
    The Return of Faraz Ali
    by Aamina Ahmad
    In Aamina Ahmad's debut, The Return of Faraz Ali, the eponymous character is a police inspector in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wonders
    The Wonders
    by Elena Medel
    Spanish poet Elena Medel's debut novel The Wonders (translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead) ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Shadows of Berlin
by David R. Gillham
A captivating novel of a Berlin girl on the run from the guilt of her past and the boy from Brooklyn who loves her.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Fly Girl
    by Ann Hood

    "Sheer pleasure. A hilarious and often moving look back at...a young woman's coming of age."
    —Dennis Lehane

  • Book Jacket

    The Immortal King Rao
    by Vauhini Vara

    A resonant debut novel obliterating the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historic and the dystopian.

Who Said...

Polite conversation is rarely either.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T S's T Limit

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.