Book tells story of overcoming racism

Published 10:33 pm Monday, July 6, 2015

By Staci JonesThe Selma Times-Journal

A Greensboro native has written a book that tells the story of him overcoming his racism during a time where it was accepted and even common.

“Better Than Them: The Unmaking of an Alabama Racist” is a nonfiction autobiographical book published by S. McEachin “Mac” Otts.

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In the book, Otts takes the reader back in time to 1954 when he was 7 years old and experiences his first memory of racism being taught to him.

“We’re better than them,” Otts recalled his grandmother saying in reference to black people who worked her farm.

Growing up in the Deep South, Otts said he didn’t know any other way of living. It was not until he was 18 that his personal awakening began.

In 1965, Otts and a group of friends showed up to a peaceful civil rights march – seeking to wreak havoc. With a tire iron in hand, something led Otts to drop his weapon. He states that he didn’t speak on the event for years but acknowledges it as being his first step to overcoming racism.

“It wasn’t an epiphany or all of a sudden. It was a combination of a series of events that happened in my community, state and country that lead me to seek to overcome racism,” Otts said. “I wanted to understand what created that mindset.”

The book explores situations that helped Otts accept the fact that he was a racist and what led him to seek to overcome it. It also speaks on his life today and his journey to find answers on what makes people the way they are.

“I want people to understand the dynamics of racism and the hooks. It was the seeds planted in me while I was a kid that served as my hooks,” Otts said.

Otts says that he will always remember the phrase spoken to him by his grandmother but will never have that mindset again.

“I was redone. I now seek to help people escape situations like mine. Now, as a Christian man, I know that I am not better than anyone. If anything, there are tons of people better than me. I’m just a simple man . . . changed by the grace of God,” Otts said.

Winston Groom, author of “Forest Gump” said that “Better Than Them” is “long overdue … a meaningful contribution to improving race relations.”

“Better Than Them” is available for purchase online through all major book retailers. Otts will also have copies available for purchase on Saturday, July 11 at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library from 9:30 a.m. to noon at his book signing. He hopes the transparency in his book can open the door for others to talk about their struggles with racism.