This well-written biopic, Mattie C’s Boy: The Shelley Stewart Story (NewSouth Books, 2013) carries the reader through the riddled landscape of emotional highs and lows where only a man once treated like an animal by both his family and society, yet prevailed against the evils of his fellow man and flourished, can.
If you look up defiance in the dictionary, Shelley Stewart’s name should be there. The sheer grit, self-reliance and determination of Mr. Stewart will inspire awe to the reader. Readers will experience through his eyes 1930’s segregated Georgia, the murder of his mother, his relentless pursuit of knowledge and meaning, and rise as a mouthpiece for his community during Dr. Martin Luther King’s campaign for equality.
Mr. Stewart’s intelligence and integrity set the bar for his peers, and despite trials of the heart and soul, his perseverance paid off.
This book, Mattie C’s Boy, made me want to go hug my children and review my life to see if I have done right by my fellow man. We are but a generation from the protests that brought upon the Civil Rights movement, and Shelley Stewart was at the center of it. I could not stop reading and hoping there was an upside to this man’s story, only to realize he was the upside.
The man was, and is, the difference-maker your teachers promised you could aspire to be.