In 2014, Grambling State University alum and New York Times Op-Ed columnist Charles M. McRay released a memoir, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”
In it, he details his experiences as an undergraduate student at Grambling State University.
In the chilling prologue of the book, Blow, then a student at Grambling State University, goes into a rage after hearing the phone of the cousin over the phone.
Enraged and armed with a handgun, Blow jumps in his car with the intention to kill his cousin.
Later on, in the book, I discover that the cousin had molested Blow as a child, which affected the way he looked at his sexuality.
Blow said that he reluctantly enrolled into Grambling, the same university where his mothers and older brothers attended. Ironically, GSU helped changed the trajectory of Blow’s life.
Originally, Blow was an English and political science major, wanting to pursue a career in politics, but at the encouragement of an English instructor, he switched his major to mass communication with a concentration in visual communication.
Blow boldly talked about his experiences pledging the “pretty boy” fraternity at GSU as a freshman, and the hazing practices that were performed on he and his line brothers.
Blow recalls being paddled and witnessing one of his line brothers being forced to drink his own vomit.
The highlight of the book for me, an aspiring journalist, was reading about Blow’s internship in the graphics department of the Shreveport Times.
The piece of advice I took was, “Arrive early and leave late.”
Blow’s superior at Shreveport Times took notice of his strong work ethic and sent him to partcipate in newsroom meetings on behalf of the graphics department.
Blow said he fancied himself more of a reporter than an artist and eventually combined the two, becoming what is known as a visual journalist.
Blow received his first big news story covering the death of an entire family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The electricity in the family’s home had been cut off, so the father inserted a generator in the crawl space under the house to power the air conditioners while the family slept.
Unable to get in the house due to police interference, Blow found a neighboring house that had the same floor plans and found the model of the generator from a store.
Blow built a diagram of the house and added captions, which was used on the front of the newspaper.
With the urging of the business editor of the Shreveport Times, Blow attended a New York Times-sponsored job in Atlanta, where he impressed representatives who called the New York offices who created a graphics internship, just for him.
Blow eventually landed a permanent position at the New York Times and the rest is history.
“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” was honest and convicting.
For someone to write a memoir or autobiography, to me, takes a lot of courage.
A lot of courage to relieve moments in our lives that not a lot of people, like myself, would want to relive.
Just to think that I’ve walked the same halls and write for the same newspaper as one of this country’s most respected journalists is amazing. The most important lesson I took from “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is that luck is where preparation meets opportunity.