Ravenna author shares her life story, from the Jim Crow south to Northern Ohio

Deseree Liddell of Ravenna has been working on her life story for almost 20 years. The resulting book, titled “The Higher You Climb, the Broader the View: From the Jim Crow South to a Thriving Northern Community,” is now available.

In her memoir, Liddell, 96, looks back on her life: her childhood in Mississippi, where her great-grandmother had been a slave; living in Chicago as a young woman; teaching in a variety of schools; and moving to Ohio, which she believes probably saved her husband’s life.

“I wrote this down so that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren can know how it was for Black families living under Jim Crow in the South back then,” she said. Her anecdotes show what everyday life was like, but some also demonstrate the fear and genuine danger people had to endure.

When she and her husband moved north, to the Skeels area in Ravenna, she faced another kind of discrimination and had to fight for equal treatment and to build a thriving community.

Hers is a story of family, faith, hard work, education, determination and survival.

Liddell collaborated with Mary Louise Ruehr, a former Record-Courier staff writer and copy editor.

“I helped her organize the information and bring out details,” Ruehr said, “but it’s totally her story in her voice.”

The book’s design was done by Henry Halem of Kent, who, along with his wife, Sandra Halem, helped get the work published. The book is available from Skeels Community Center for $20 plus $5 postage and handling. Proceeds will go to the Deseree Liddell Minority Scholarship Fund. For more information, write to skeels@fcsohio.org.

Liddell will appear at a book signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Skeels Community Center, 4378 Skeels St., Ravenna.

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