He couldn't stand still. Only sixteen months into his first term as Philadephia's first black mayor, he paced up and down the room banging on desks, talking to the television screens. He watched in horror as the flames leaped from the barricaded MOVE house at 6221 Osage Avenue to a nearby building, then from house to house, crossing the street. The fire seemed to have a life of its own as it raced through the neighborhood. Yelling into the phone now, "Did the kids get out? Did the people get out of the house, Leo?" Wilson Goode couldn't take his eyes off the television screens. They were letting it burn! Why? And God -- was God hearing his prayers? Straining to hear over the cacophony of television newscasters' voices, he waited for word from Leo Brooks at the command center. In disbelief, he watched his political career going up in smoke. Rizzo's storm troops were taking out two birds with the same stone, and all he could do was watch.
What really happened that day? Finally, the story behind the explosive incident that sent shock waves acrosss the entire nation can now be told -- how it happened and why it couldn't be stopped
Wilson Goode's story is a familiar odyssey, rooted in the racial clichés and paradoxes of the still-segregated rural South of the forties and fifties, but with a series of uncommon twists and no fewer remarkable turns. It's a story colored with memories... of weathered, country shacks with outdoor plumbing and a big, old potbellied stove that left one side of the room chilly and the other side burning hot... of warming the mourner's bench for what seemed like an eternity before answering the call... of a father whose soul periodically erupted from scars put there by prejudice and illiteracy... of a mother's "Amazing Grace" and a faith so catching it was to propel her fifth-born into Philadelphiaj's highest city office as its 126th mayor.
Wilson Goode talks about power and politics and about Philadelphia's fiery coming of age with a self-effacing humility that is often alarming, at times embarassing; yet he tells his story with a spiritual commitment that is nothing short of humbling.
In Goode Faith
Philadelphia's First Black Mayor Tells His Story
by W. Wilson Goode
with Joann Stevens
Hardcover, 316 pages, 6.25" x 9.25"