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(Impressions from a variety of readers)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The "Stand Your Ground" law
About the Trayvon Martin Case (and I don't normally chime in on this sort of thing), but I am curious about one thing, and perhaps someone can help me understand. The "Stand your Ground" law that appears to be Zimmerman's refuge: Does it not equally apply to the kid? I mean, he was lawfully allowed to be where he was walking, unarmed, committing no crime and being followed/threatened by a strange man. Was the kid protected by the same principle of law as Zimmerman, with a right to confront the perceived threat to his well being? Anyone know?
Tue, April 17, 2012 | link

Monday, April 9, 2012

Germantown author uses his life experience to help today's teens, April 7, 2012, By Yasmein James, for NewsWorks

At age 13, attending a boarding school for high-school students was the furthest thing from Larry Woody's mind.

In fact, the only one he had ever heard of was the Choate Rosemary Hall because that was the school the Kennedy family attended.

Like most of the kids in his neighborhood, he was likely to attend the local public school, Baltimore City High School. That changed in 1968 when he received a full-ride scholarship to the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, NH.

The scholarship fund, called "A Better Chance," is dedicated to substantially increasing the number of well-educated young people of color.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, it began accepting minority students by testing four high-achieving students that were Black, Hispanic and Native American. Woody was one of them.

Remembering a life shift

The Baltimore native who now calls Germantown home knew that attending the school would be a huge adjustment from the rough streets of Harlem Park. He just didn't know how much, which is what he details in his memoir entitled "In Black In White." Last month, he released the second edition.

Woody presents the book as a great way to talk about all the issues teenagers deal with when they are in school, regardless of their background.

"Even though it's talking about this elite boarding school," he said, "the experience that I am writing about is pretty universal for any kid that goes to a good school, who is a minority someplace and who had to adjust."

Woody geared the book which covers his life from 9 to 19 years old toward readers in their teens to their mid-twenties. He said he tried to emphasize the value of hard work and education by exploring topics such as peer pressure, bullying, sports, ethnic tensions and over and under-achieving for minorities.

He also looks at the education gap which separated him from peers who had been going to boarding school their whole life.

"I was considered the smartest kid in Harlem Park Junior High, but I went from that to a school where I was the dumbest kid in my class," he said. "The first year, I just couldn't pass anything because it was incredibly hard."

What he's become

Today, Woody works for Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, a non-profit public-health institute which seeks to build healthier communities through partnerships with government, community-based organizations, local businesses and foundations.

He is a social worker for the "Focus on Fathers" program that helps men reconnect with their children by serving as an advocate during custody fights and other domestic affairs.

Mon, April 9, 2012 | link

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"Larry's book certainly got me thinking.  It was great how he let the facts of his experience speak for themselves, without polemic.  Plainness and directness in writing are hard to achieve, but he certainly managed it and did so consistently.  You know I read it in just two sittings.  He has an author's voice, which I envy.  I hope someone writes something for the Alumni Horae about the book."


"I read your book during our drive to ATL this past Thanksgiving week.  I also shared some of the stories/ people with family.  It was great to take a trip down “memory lane.”  Some of the “thugs” I remember well, in much the same way that you do, as I go to Jesse’s to get my haircut.  I haven’t seen or heard anything about most of them."


"I especially enjoyed how you captured the different friends you had both in Harlem Park and at Saint Paul’s.  I cried when Hipp died, as I felt I knew him through your recounting of his energy and enthusiasm, and his pranks, including the funny things he wrote on the blackboard in class." 


"Well, where to begin?  Your candor about your time in Baltimore was disarming and made your descriptions of events more compelling and credible.  I found myself thinking over and over, "Man, I didn't know that about Woody.”  At times it was uncomfortable, almost like reading somebody's diary.  But it was very effective storytelling."


"What I found interesting in your book as well is that although your experience was heavily flavored by racial issues, there are many universal aspects to the story.  Your trajectory from the streets of West Baltimore to the ivy-covered buildings of an elite prep school is a huge arc, but others made at least somewhat similar journeys if at a somewhat tamer angle."


"Larry, your book is REALLY great!  I am just luuuuuuuuvin' this!  Bravo to the Max!  Will have more specific praise and appreciation later, but THANK you for doing this extremely fine work!!!!!!!"


"It felt so real for me..........like you were right here telling me the story; like you and I were having a conversation about your life."


"What a fascinating, brave book, Woody!  You really put yourself on the line here.  I learned so much about inner city life in Baltimore and what was happening behind the scenes at SPS.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world I hardly knew."


"As you noted, there is probably no other four year period with as much change as happened between September 1968 and June 1972 in the entire 100 and whatever year history of the school.  (A fact that is hugely ironic, as my parents sent me there because they thought it was the most stable looking school.)"


"Basically, I just wanted to let you know that I'm a huge fan of your book.  Granted I was taking a 20-credit semester so I'm only half way through the book, I can't wait to finish it up this summer.  I grew up in west Baltimore County, but it's astounding to see how many things were brought over.  The main thing is what you called in your book "body punching" which when we were doin we called it simply "goin body".  Long story short, I love the book so far and can’t wait to finish it! 
(ps. I've been recommending this book to all my college friends!)."


"Very captivating, funny and sometimes dangerous stuff."


"It was a really good read!  You had to grow up fast and wise early.  Unlike fiction, I realized that the characters that were chronicled were indeed real—tragedy along with comedy - That’s life."


"My sister got your book, and liked it so much."


"The Baltimore "hood" period sets up the St Paul's "preppy" period nicely. It's non-fiction but there is still a sort of fictional drama to it with a social conflict involved that needs to be resolved. I think that schools MUST have this book on their lists. I would love to monitor a high school discussion on it."


"I think it is a great book. Highly recommended!"


"I purchased the book, read it from cover to cover and it was a terrific read. I must say that you are a brave soul, I don't think I would lay my soul bare like you did."


"I also wanted to tell you that your remembrances of Hipp was particularly moving and faithful to my memories of him. He had a great life-force, and now you've shared that with the world. Great job."

"Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed your book. The style of writing transported us back to the young kids we were back then. Thank you!"


"I am really looking forward to reading  your book, and will take it back with me to Uganda and show the kids that even outside of Africa people are poor and a minority."




"IN BLACK IN WHITE is a highly entertaining, honestly told personal story. In the opinion of this judge, the book's key strength is Mr. Woody's incredibly natural style of writing. Interspersing slang and vernacular freely with standard grammar and usage, he does a great job of rendering the gritty city experiences that shaped him. The reader gets vivid picture after vivid picture, with lots of interesting details. Mr. Woody also does a good job representing the core values that he took away from his family and the streets, as well as the unusual experience of his being ripped from familiar surroundings and transplanted to a high-toned prep school thanks to a scholarship program. Overall, an engrossing memoir of a life well lived".

(Anonymous judge, Writer's Digest sef-published  book contest 2012)



"The self-publishing revolution continues to change the face of publishing in part because of authors like L.T. Woody, whose coming-of-age story IN BLACK IN WHITE broke barriers when it was reviewed in the Baltimore Sun." (Mister Write: Books, writing, items of literary interest.)


Woody, LT

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