NEWARK—Sarah Carter Brown barely escaped a lynch mob in Georgia, experienced the cruelty of the Jim Crow laws, and survived the Great Depression by cleaning homes for ten cents an hour.
These tales, along with recipes for life and southern cuisine can be found in Aunt Sarah’s Recipes for a Long & Spirit Filled Life, a book written by former journalist and motivational speaker Caryl Lucas.
Lucas and her great Aunt Sarah, 106, will appear at the Newark Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 13 for a discussion and book signing. The book signing will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. in Centennial Hall, 5 Washington Street.
“My aunt inspired me to write her book of wisdom because she has been my biggest role model and the greatest example of faith in action I know,” said Lucas, who just completed the three year book project. “Aunt Sarah’s Recipes for a Long & Spirit Filled Life” is a tribute to our family’s matriarch and healer. Her mother wit and wise tales taught me the essence of faith, perseverance and the importance of family holding onto our rich traditions.”
Aunt Sarah is the sole survivor of 13 siblings and resides at the Meadowview Nursing Home in Williamstown. She was born in the South, seven years after the 1896 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the separate but equal doctrine.
In the 1920s, Aunt Sarah, a newly-wedded bride, moved to New Jersey with her family during the Great Migration, which brought more than one million blacks to the north in search of economic opportunity.
The family eventually settled on a farm in rural Monroeville, where she gardened and grew her own vegetables. In 1924, she recalled fleeing the farm after one of her brothers received a death threat from the Ku Klux Klan. She survived that trying period in American history by cleaning homes. In the 1940s, she was a factory worker.
The farm, though, was the anchor in her life. It was where one of her nephews, the prizefighter Rubin “Hurricane” Carter spent his summer vacations. It was also her experimental kitchen – where she learned to concoct remedies from homemade herbs. She credits one of those concoctions – horehound tea – as one of the secrets to her longevity. The other is her faith.
Aunt Sarah has lived through 19 presidents and was driving until the age of 95. In 2008, she was overjoyed to cast a vote for President Barack Obama.
“She attributes her long life to Jesus, good genes and good living,” said Lucas. “At 106, no one can argue with her reasoning.”
The event is part of the Library’s Black History Month celebration. In addition to the book signing, the Library is recognizing African-American lawyers and judges in its exhibit, Fiat Justita, Let Justice Be Done. The exhibit features legal memos, documents, articles and artifacts that were used in landmark court cases such as The Amistad, Jena Six, and the Dred Scott decision. The exhibit will be on display in the Main Library’s second floor gallery through March 20 and is free and open to the public.
For more information about the exhibit and the book signing, visit www.npl.org or call 1-973-733-733-5411.
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