Book provides an insight into social histories

Published 2:53 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

Staff Writer

William A.C. Polk’s latest book, “A Social History: The Chronicle of an Okay P K,” conveys a history as viewed through the eyes and experiences of one who grew up in the family of a black Methodist preacher.
Taking him just over nine months to complete the manuscript, Polk said, he wanted to get his message out to today’s youth as soon as possible.
“The objective here is to use this sketch of my life to provide a general grasp of and sensitivity to the sweeping foundations of our collective social history,” Polk said. “My family is one that provided a varied life’s path that was socially diverse, creating no discernible problems for any of us until I was an adult.”
Polk, an educator for more than 20 years, said the book discusses the social actions that made him the person he is today. Some of the topics Polk touches on in the book are about growing up as a black Methodist preacher’s child in the South, attending six elementary schools in eight years, getting an education before and after World War II, finding a profession in life, raising and caring for an active, loving family and living through the civil-rights movement.
Polk’s book reveals how he acquired coping mechanisms and how the social realities of his upbringing protected, shielded and enriched his life while at the same time providing him with an understanding of the influences of the dominant culture.
“When I grew up, I was called an ‘Oreo,’ and I hated it,” he said. “People were saying we were black on the outside, but white on the inside. That alienated me from the rest of the black community. Being called an ‘Oreo’ was a slap in the face.”
According to Polk, his personal anecdotes and experiences explain how he learned from his family ways to achieve a measure of independent thought and action, along with the development of his attitudes and values.
“My intention is to get other people to look at their lives as a social history,” Polk said. “If they can do that, then they will be able to determine where they come from, where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.”
The book, he said, documents his efforts to bring about a more-comprehensive base of communication and trust between people of all races and cultures.
“These experiences provided the concepts that helped me provide education and socially effective interactions with many different individuals and groups,” he said. “Our individual social histories are created by our interactions with every other individual we’ve met.”
Polk said the book is an attempt to illustrate, through a review of his own experiences, that even chance meetings may have convoluted meanings.
“Thus, I have become determined to find a variety of ways to decode, decipher and rectify our national societal climate in order to assure that life-enriching opportunities are denied to no person,” Polk said. “History is made, not by any one of us alone, but by the fact that we are all on this earth together. And, consequently, we share the responsibility for all changes in our society.”
Polk said he will speak about his books at the Robersonville Meat Packing Co. in Robersonville on Sept. 18 in an effort to give those who hear him an idea of how their work accomplishes a social history.