Posted by: Jill Potts Jones | May 22, 2012

James Schell’s story of a man who defied convention


Dr. James Schell is a graduate of Tenth Street High School in West Point, Georgia, a segregated school for blacks until the mid-1900’s. Because it was unusual to see a number of white people in attendance at class reunions, when he saw a group of whites occupying two tables, his first thought was “there has to be a story there.”  And, there was.

 “We Call Our Daddy ‘Mister’” tells the true story of Burrell Floyd Harrell, the oldest son of a Confederate soldier.  Harrell was only 17 years of age when his father passed away.  Not one to adhere to customs and traditions of his day, he fell in love with Rosa Winston-Davidson, a mulatto woman, meaning she was not a first generation offspring and white and black parents.  She and Harrell had nine children and even though it was against the law at the time, they lived as a family and raised their children together.  Mr. Harrell, though he was an intelligent man who dismissed the prejudices of his day, he still failed to provide for his common-law wife and children by drawing up a Will that would have made arrangements for an inheritance.

Dr. Schell’s book chronicles not only the history of the Harrell family but also tells the history of the attitudes and culture of a period of Southern history.  It is the story of a family who weren’t accepted by blacks or whites and who survived a hostile environment and overcame obstacles and became stronger because of rather than in spite of their circumstances.  Our society has moved on and become more tolerant of racially mixed marriages, however, hearing accounts from a different viewpoint will enlighten those who lived during this time.

Dr. Schell will be at Southern Crossing, 813 South Railroad Avenue in Downtown Opelika, on Thursday, May 24, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. signing his books.  His books will be on sale for $20.00 plus tax.

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