Today, we are happy to bring you our conversation with Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson, coauthors of LIMITED CHOICES: Mable Jones, a Black Children's Nurse in a Northern White Household, out this week.
What inspired you to write this book?
We wanted to honor Mable Jones who had played such an important part in our lives. We also hoped we might better understand how White privilege was based on Black exploitation. We had worked together in the past and we looked forward to doing so again.
What did you learn and what are you hoping readers will learn from your book?
We learned a great deal about the place of religion and extended family relationships in Mable Jones’s life.
What surprised you the most in the process of writing your book?
We had always associated Mable Jones with Charlottesville because we had written letters to her there. We were surprised to learn that she had spent her childhood in Louisa County and retrained very strong ties to her family’s land.
What’s your favorite anecdote from your book?
We cherished the moments when we could laugh with Mable Jones’s grandchildren about her sharp wit. Mable Jones’s pastor, the Reverend Alvin Edwards, took us to visit Mable’s close friend, Violet Price, in her nursing home. We enjoyed sharing memories with her. Eugene Williams had known Mable Jones when he was a boy and he recounted many of his experiences in the civil rights struggle.
We each worked on our own separate projects during the pandemic. Now we are embarking on a new project together about a racially integrated summer camp we attended in the 1950s and early 1960s.