The Agitator’s Daughter: A Memoir of Four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family

Author: 
Sheryll Cashin

The Agitator’s Daughter is a memoir of four generations of an Alabama family dedicated to political activism. Political emancipation is the lifeblood of the Cashin family from Reconstruction to the Wallace years in Alabama, and the book chronicles the author’s “complicated [and] often troublesome inheritance.” In the 1970s, the Cashins help start an independent wing of the Democratic party to counter the “Dixiecrats.” The Cashins are willing to do anything to advance their cause, including Cashin’s mother taking her infant (the then-four-month-old author), to jail with her when they were arrested at a sit-in. When mother and baby are released from jail and arrive home, Cashin’s father, a Huntsville dentist, scolds her: “What are you doing here? You are supposed to be in jail.” The Cashins’s attempts to change Alabama’s political landscape eventually lead them to financial ruin, leading the author to wonder why her family, particularly her single-minded father, was willing to risk so much on political change.