In this beautifully written book, Eric Motley shares his personal odyssey of grace and gratitude. This is a memoir about love – love of family, community, literature, language, and ideas.
The Ann Korologos Gallery Art & Literature Program presents Eric Motley, author of the memoir Madison Park: A Place of Hope, for an author’s talk and book signing on Wednesday June 20, from 5 to 7PM at Ann Korologos Gallery. “In this compelling memoir, Eric shows how his life trajectory was shaped by the self-reliance instilled by his grandparents – but also the timely support of a close-knit community of mentors and supporters. Whatever attributes we ourselves bring to the table, our networks propel us further,” shared Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.
Eric Motley, executive vice president of The Aspen Institute and former special assistant to President George W. Bush, grew up in a rural Alabama town founded by freed slaves. Raised by adoptive grandparents, Eric benefited from the care of the whole neighborhood, which instilled in him values of hope, self-determination, and generosity, and which prized education and faith. He tells the story of this proud black community in his memoir, Madison Park: A Place of Hope.
“I didn’t simply ‘grow up.’ I was raised,” Motley says. “Mama and Daddy had little money, but possessed in abundance all the things that count—optimism, integrity, patriotism, common sense, faith in God, respect for others, and a strong work ethic—and passed those onto me.”
Madison Park, a rural hamlet outside of Montgomery, was founded in 1880. The founders and subsequent generations built a community on bedrock values of knowing your neighbor’s name, lending a helping hand, and supporting each other through life’s ups and down. “Every aspect of our common life was imbued with a sense of ‘we, not me,’” Motley says. “Alienation is difficult in a place where we all believed that we were all responsible for one another.”
As the “designated university kid” Motley benefited from a communal drive for him to succeed. People gave their time and talent, serving as volunteer tutors, driving him to educational events, sharing books and records, encouraging his sense of curiosity.
Motley attended Samford University in Birmingham, and received a Rotary Fellowship to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he stayed on to earn his Ph.D. Along the way, mentors played important roles in his life, offering friendship, wisdom, financial assistance, and introductions to people such as fellow Alabamian Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
As a 1970s first-grader, Eric Motley was dubbed a “turtle” because of his poor reading skills. Two decades later, he became the youngest appointee in George W. Bush’s White House. In this compelling memoir, Eric shows how his life trajectory was shaped by the self-reliance instilled by his grandparents – but also the timely support of a close-knit community of mentors and supporters. Whatever attributes we ourselves bring to the table, our networks propel us further.
–Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestsellers The Startup of You and The Alliance