The Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society will commemorate Justified by Her Children, written by Pastor/Author Roy Pollina on Tuesday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m.
Joyce Staples will lead a thought-provoking and stimulating discussion of the book in the Courtroom of the Historic Henry County Courthouse. Staples is a retired English professor of Patrick & Henry Community College and Longwood University and currently serves as Historical Society Board Secretary and Fayette Area Historical Initiative Chair. She is a member of the Martinsville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a past president of Piedmont Arts. The book is available for purchase in the Gift Shop of the Martinsville Henry County Heritage Center & Museum, 1 East Main Street, Martinsville, Virginia, Tuesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.
On Sunday, May 15, at 3 p.m., the Historical Society will conduct its Annual Meeting in the Courtroom of the Historic Henry County Courthouse, with Pastor Pollina serving as distinguished speaker. President John Phillips will provide a brief review of the 2021-2022 year and introduce the 2022-2023 officers and board of directors. Following the meeting, refreshments will be served, and Pastor Pollina will be available for book signings and photographs. Admission is free for both events. The building is fully handicap accessible.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/991839431748229/ for the Book Discussion and www.facebook.com/events/692730278769031/ for the Annual Meeting.
In May 1958, Virginia newspapers were reporting that the Christ Church, Martinsville, Virginia congregational leadership had declared that their bishop’s plan to integrate the summer youth camp “is both illegal and ill-advised” and that they would oppose any “intermingling of the races.” Amid this controversy, a quiet revolution stirred among that congregation’s young people, uplifted by their youthful, energetic priest, The Reverend Philip Gresham. When these brave young people stood with their bishop in favor of an integrated youth camp their opinion was derided as youthful naïveté. It was suggested that they focus on their studies and leave such problems to the adults. Rather than discouraging them, their church leadership’s humiliating dismissal inspired them to devise a more tangible expression of their position. They would acquire and present a gift, a “peace offering,” as a token of their solidarity with their bishop.
Justified by Her Children navigates the tradition of racism from the Virginia colonial enslavers to the Massive Resistance of Virginia segregationist of the 1950s. It is ultimately a story of grace and forgiveness, but not before it wends its way through the trial and execution of the African American “Martinsville Seven,” past the whispers about the sexual orientation of the young, single priest, and a congregation in conflict over letting its white children eat a box supper with black children at a church mission event to benefit hungry brown children. Justified by Her Children is written in the hope that readers will gain a better understanding of “how it was,” and from that understanding, know better how to deal with “how it is” today.
John Phillips, Historical Society President, said, “We are not always proud of our past but must acknowledge and embrace it to learn from it and not repeat it. Our area is fortunate that Pastor Pollina wrote this book which allows us the opportunity to explore the events further and to grow as a community.” Pastor Pollina graduated from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, in 1985. He was ordained that year in the Diocese of Louisiana where he served for 26 years. He retired as Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Martinsville, Virginia, in 2015. He is the author of To Bless a Child. He recently received the 2022 Silver Illumination Book Award for Justified by Her Children. The purpose of the Illumination Book Awards is to bring award recipients the credibility and publicity they need to further their book marketing and sales success. The awards are designed to “shine a light” on the best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview.