“Why does my skin color matter?” Knoxville author shares lessons learned in Jim Crow South

Author James Puckett releases new book on growing up as a young black boy in the late 1950′s and early 1960′s.
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 11:07 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -James Puckett was raised on the border of Tennessee and Mississippi during the 1950′s. The son of sharecroppers, Puckett saw firsthand how hard it was for African Americans with Jim Crow Laws dominating the entire region.

“I got to see the struggles that my parents went through, all because of the color of their skin,” Puckett said.

Puckett would go on to serve in the United States Army for 25 years and worked as a Lieutenant for the Knox County Schools Security Department. Pucket retired from Knox County Schools after 18 years.

It was while serving in the Army that a distraught Puckett decided to write a book, hoping it would offer him an outlet for his thoughts.

“It was about, you know, having faith in God,” Puckett said. “I persevered through that, and I wrote the book and I’ve been writing ever since.”

Puckett’s new book is his first that takes a look at the current racial climate in America, offering a perspective from his childhood, and asking the question, “Why does my skink color matter?”

“Our skin color helps identify who we are,” Puckett said. “A person’s culture can be determined by the color of their skin, but one should never look at a person’s skin color to determine the nature of the character of that person. Never.”

Puckett hopes his real-life experiences can help give a glimpse of how far we’ve come since the 50′s.

“I’m not telling them something that I read out of another book. I’m telling them something that I experienced,” Puckett said. “I’m a black man. 66 years old, so I got to see what racism really looks like because of a person’s skin color. What we are seeing today is nothing compared to back then.”

Puckett said while many people want to forget about the sins of the past, remembering them is the only way forward.

“This is part of our history. I know some people want to take away our history, but this is who we are, no matter what the color of your skin is, that’s who you are,” Puckett said.

Puckett’s book, “Why Does My Skin Color Matter?” can be purchased here.

To learn more about James Puckett, visit his Facebook page.

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