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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fighting Bigotry with Words

When Edna Ferber (ed- nuh fur-ber) was born in Kalamazoo on August 15, 1885 - life was harsh. Anxiety ran high in the family home on South Park Street.


The Ferbers were Jewish. Many people disapproved of others practicing that religion. They hurled insults as the Ferbers went to school, their synagogue (sin-uh-gog) or worked in their store.

The repeated bullying hurt everyone, especially Edna’s father. He spoke with a Yiddish accent, was blind and in frail health. While Edna was still young, he died.

With a childhood filled with heartache, Edna could have become bitter and insecure. Instead, she picked up a pencil and paper and began to write.  Her first job was as a newspaper reporter. Edna then wrote novels, short stories and plays based on her observations of America’s working class. People of different colors and backgrounds who met their ordeals with courage. Their struggles were balanced with consideration for others.

Her book So Big won a Pulitzer (poo l-it-ser) Prize. Another popular novel, Show Boat, was transformed into a Broadway musical. Years later, it became a movie as did her
other books Giant, Cimarron and Ice Palace. 

Edna Ferber never forgot her unhappy youth. She fought bigotry, not physically, but with written words.  In 2002 the United States Postal Service issued a Distinguished Americans postage stamp in her honor.