Sumter County native returns to area for book tour

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Sarah Bracey White, author of the memoir "Primary Lessons," will be visiting the Sumter area for a week to reconnect with family and friends, talk about her book and sign copies. Her appearances begin at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Elephant Ear Gallery on Bultman Drive and end Sunday in Pinewood, to which she traces family on her father's side.

White was born in Sumter County and lived here from the age of 5 until she graduated from Lincoln High School. Her father, William Edward White II, her grandfather, William Edward White I, and her great-grandfather, Stephen Francis White, all grew up in the Pinewood area. Stephen Francis White, a respected farmer and landowner in the Sand Hill community near Pinewood, died in 1919 at the age of 77, leaving a very large estate, according to his death notice in the Manning Times. His funeral was attended by about 3,000 people, the article stated.

Sarah Bracey White said she is excited about returning to Pinewood to talk about her paternal family roots, her "local family history" and her memoir. She will meet friends, family and other interested people during the 3-to-5 p.m. presentation, allowing ample time to visit with old friends and new fans.

"The opportunity to take my story back to the place that holds my paternal roots is both a privilege and a challenge," White said. "My father's absence from my life left me with feelings of ambivalence about him, and his birthplace. Until I went to Pinewood as an adult, and learned the truth of my father's history, I had no idea about my proud heritage. I am who I am because I stand on the shoulders of my Pinewood ancestors. I return to say thank you to their spirits."

The author's father and her mother, Roberta Bracey White, were graduates of Morris College and taught school in the area. Her grandfather was also a teacher and land owner in the local area and was known among family and friends as "Professor."

In addition to discussing her local family history, Sarah White will also be reading from her memoir "Primary Lessons" and giving a brief talk about her life growing up in Sumter during the Jim Crow era and the last days of segregation.

Light refreshments will be served, and copies of "Primary Lessons" will be available for purchasing and autographs.

The event will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, at the Pinewood American Legion Building at Main and Clark streets in Pinewood. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend.