Beavercreek author publishes novel about racial acceptance

Carol Hicks was inspired by volunteer work in Civil Rights Movement.

Carol Hicks of Beavercreek developed the idea of writing her first book decades ago as a volunteer in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.

Growing up in a typical white American family in Long Island, New York, Hicks was as far removed from civil rights as one could be. She graduated from high school with honors and received two college scholarships. She attended Beloit College in Wisconsin, majoring in English literature.

“It was during my sophomore year that I became heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement,” Hicks said.

In the spring of 1965, she traveled to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to help with Black voter registration.

“I did a lot of things in college,” Hicks said. “I went to marches and protests and I tutored black children. But going to Mississippi was a transforming experience.”

Aware of the danger before deciding to go, she nonetheless thought it important enough to join another group of about 30 college students – all of them white. The group received marching orders from a civil rights group in Mississippi and were to gather information about potential difficulties Black people were having registering to vote.

“We stayed over spring break for about 10 days,” Hicks said. “The idea of writing my first book developed while I was there.”

The experience strengthened her resolve to try to right the many wrongs she witnessed.

Hicks said she doesn’t remember a time she wasn’t writing. And she knew she always wanted to write a book, but between college classes and then several jobs, all of which included writing, the book remained mostly inside her head.

“I was a magazine and newspaper journalist starting out my career,” Hicks said. “My first job as a journalist was in Columbus for a Black newspaper (The Call & Post).”

She came to Ohio to attend Ohio State University and pursue her master’s degree in journalism which she received in 1969. There she met her husband, George, who ended up getting a job in the Dayton area.

“I figured I’d be doing something with media in the Dayton area,” Hicks said. “We ended up settling in Yellow Springs.”

Hicks held jobs with the Xenia Daily Gazette and the Antioch Review, where she became managing editor. She also worked as the co-editor of Fictional Review – a national literary magazine. Eventually she became associate director of university communications at Wright State University.

“I was at WSU for more than 10 years and then saw an interesting position at the Dayton Foundation,” Hicks said. “I worked as the vice president of marketing and communications there for 13 years and loved it!”

In 2010, Hicks published her first book, “Gifts from the Garden,” about the healing power of nature and the joy of gardening. An avid backpacker for more than two decades, she considers nature her “go to place.”

But Hicks never forgot her experience as a college student in Mississippi. So when she retired from working full time in 2016, partially to care for her aging mother, she decided to start putting pen to paper and begin writing about the experiences that changed her life.

“The Color of Acceptance” was published last year.

“It’s a story about race in America as seen through the eyes of my protagonist, Gabrielle Anderson, a Latina whose birth mother was forced to give her up for adoption,” Hicks said.

Adopted by a white couple from Long Island, Gabrielle grew up during the 1950′s and 60′s attending an all-white school, where she always felt like an outsider.

“The novel is about prejudice, passion and perseverance,” Hicks, who drew from her own personal experiences to write the story, said. “It took me five years to complete.”

In reality, Hicks began this book decades ago, but she had completed just 50 pages. She said she never forgot about Gabrielle and completing her story. The published book is more than 400 pages long.

“This book grew from my sorrow that racial discrimination still taints our country,” Hicks said. “It’s about my character’s hope of touching others through shared experiences.”

Over the course of her life, Hicks has traveled the world, backpacking in Nepal, spending time in China and Tibet and visiting Istanbul, Turkey where her sister, Judy Peterson was serving as a Peace Corp volunteer.

“I now spend as much time as I can outdoors and of course, writing,” Hicks said.

Hicks continues to freelance and has begun work on her third novel, a fictional story taking place in China.

“Writing my novel was the hardest thing I ever did,” Hicks said. “It’s a whole different animal so you could say I learned to write novels as I went. I saw this as a labor of love because I cared so deeply about the subject matter.”

Hicks’ books may be purchased on Amazon.com

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