Susan Neville, the Butler professor/author who happens to be The Most Under-Rated Important Writer in Indianapolis – and Indiana, and The Midwest and The United States – has a dynamite new essay that was chosen as a “Solo” for the literary magazine Ploughshares.
“Into the Fire” is the title of the essay and Neville goes “into the fire” of her family’s past.
In old family letters from both her mother and her father’s side of the family, she comes across black and white photos of burning crosses – the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan.
Nevile acts as a literary detective to discover the female member of her family during the 1920s who was part of the women’s division of the Klan. (The Klan had its greatest stronghold in Indiana in the 1920s, and many women were part of it.)
Neville not only finds the likely Klanswoman (one she would have least suspected) but more importantly, she takes on the responsibility of her ancestorship, asking “What does this mean for me? Who am I?” as a white citizen in today’s world?