opinionated biographies for lunch

Actually, it's risotto and over-easy eggs on a bed of romaine. Comfort food for the last push. Talked with my editor yesterday and have promised the entire novel to him next week. Yesterday was for making a final decision about the opinionated biographies. Today is for fact-checking, reworking, finding a bit of poetry if I can for these stories, and wrestling them to the mat.
Biographies in a novel? Well... yes. Opinionated? Oh, yeah. I made a list of ten or twelve people I wanted to profile in this book, who would exist outside the narrative but within the covers of the book, as color and flavor, giving heft to the overall arc of the Sixties Trilogy. I researched them and sketched them into the book.

From the pack, I culled four. I am calling them:

1. The Farmer From Independence. This is an opinionated biography of Harry Truman and a delineation of the Cold War leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis (and a hint of the Vietnam Conflict to come).

2. The King of Camelot. John F. Kennedy and Jackie, Caroline, John-John, and that famous phrase, "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, known as Camelot." Or was it?

3. Athletes of the Eternal City. The 1960 Summer Olympic Games have been called The Olympics That Changed The World. You can read why at this link. My task is to show this in my opinionated biography of the 1960 Summer Games that includes gold medals for Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, and Rafer Johnson.

4. The Sharecropper from Ruleville. She didn't even know she had a constitutional right to vote, but when she was told that she did, 44-year-old Fannie Lou Hamer marched to the courthouse to register. She was beaten and jailed. She caught the fire of social activism and in 1964, at the Democratic National Convention, she uttered the now-famous words, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Whew. What a task -- bridging the fifties and cutting a swath across the early sixties, AND setting the reader up for Book Two (which takes place in 1966) as well. And, making sure I tell these opinionated biographies in such a way that they are stories about people who were once children, as most of my readers will be children. I want them to see themselves in these biographies and to make connections to their own lives as history.

I'm mourning the biographies I had to cut: Betty Friedan, John Glenn, Rachel Carson, Students for a Democratic Society (including Tom Hayden, the Port Huron Statement, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement), Highlander School (and Myles Horton, Virginia Durr, Rosa Parks and more), SNCC (and Medgar Evers, Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis and more), Werner Von Braun, Motown and Stax Records, Richard Alpert/Ram Dass (really!) .... and more. Some of these may be useful to me for Book Two, but I limited myself to four opinionated biographies in Book One.

So now, I have officially killed some of my darlings.

Who would you have picked for this first book in the Sixties Trilogy? Who do you consider the movers and shakers of the Sixties, people who defined us as a nation in the 1960s? Don't forget music, television, and film. Our social history is as important as the political one.

Who would you pick for the next two books? And could you write those biographies for me, please? Hahahahaha. Okay. Back to work.