Unspeakable : the story of Junius Wilson

by Burch, Susan,

Format: Print Book [2007]
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Braddock Carnegie Library Non Fiction 362.4 BUR
Location  Braddock Carnegie Library
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  362.4 BUR
Junius Wilson (1908-2001) spent seventy-six years at a state mental hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina, including six in the criminal ward. He had never been declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charge. But he was deaf and black in the Jim Crow South. Unspeakable is the story of his life.

Using legal records, institutional files, and extensive oral history interviews--some conducted in sign language--Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner piece together the story of a deaf man accused in 1925 of attempted rape, found insane at a lunacy hearing, committed to the criminal ward of the State Hospital for the Colored Insane, castrated, forced to labor for the institution, and held at the hospital for more than seven decades. Junius Wilson's life was shaped by some of the major developments of twentieth-century America: Jim Crow segregation, the civil rights movement, deinstitutionalization, the rise of professional social work, and the emergence of the deaf and disability rights movements. In addition to offering a bottom-up history of life in a segregated mental institution, Burch and Joyner's work also enriches the traditional interpretation of Jim Crow by highlighting the complicated intersections of race and disability as well as of community and language.

This moving study expands the boundaries of what biography can and should be. There is much to learn and remember about Junius Wilson--and the countless others who have lived unspeakable histories.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Junius Wilson, a deaf black man who died in 2001, spent 76 years in a state mental hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He had earlier spent six years in a criminal ward after a charge of attempted rape. Relying mostly on oral-history interviews, Burch and Joyner reconstruct Wilson's life in an institution where he was castrated, forced into hard labor, and marginalized by his deafness even as the entire institution, the State Hospital for the Colored Insane, was marginalized by race. Isolated by his inability to communicate with others, Wilson's every action was misinterpreted to his detriment. Burch and Joyner also explore the racial and social dynamics that may have caused a man who was never found guilty of any criminal charge to live his life in an institution as the forces of major movements from civil rights to disability rights and changes in professional social work slowly moved to reevaluate his situation. An engrossing and insightful look at changes in how race and disability have been viewed from the perspective of one man's life.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2007 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Additional Information
Subjects Wilson, Junius, -- 1908-2001.
Deaf -- North Carolina -- Greensboro -- Biography.
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Greensboro -- Biography.
Racism -- Southern States -- Case studies.
People with disabilities -- Abuse of -- United States -- Case studies.
Mentally ill -- Abuse of -- United States -- Case studies.
Diagnostic errors -- United States -- Case studies.
Greensboro (N.C.) -- Biography.
Greensboro (N.C.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
Publisher Chapel Hill :[2007]
Contributors Joyner, Hannah, author.
Language English
Description 304 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 271-294) and index.
ISBN 9780807831557
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