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A local writer shares her story

A local author shares an experience that is good for the soul.

Billie Joy Langston is a Suffolk native who has had many of her writings published in different formats. However, in June 2021, she was published for the first time in “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” For each publication, thousands of applicants send in writings for only 101 stories to be chosen.

This edition of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was called “I’m Speaking Now.” These 101 stories and 12 poems were written by Black women sharing their experiences about truth, life, love and hope.

“I am elated to have the opportunity to write a story for publication in the book,” Langston said.

Langston’s story is the first in the fifth chapter and is titled “Where We Come From.” Her story “Surviving and Thriving” recounts her experience in the third grade being the first integrated student at her new school. Like her, many of the other contributors looked back at their experiences during the Civil Rights era.

In her story, Langston spoke about how she knew she was different from all her classmates, but she never let herself feel different.

“This story is relevant today in many ways,” Langston said. “The ethnic aspect for me was beneficial for my overall development. I was able to recognize everyone doesn’t look like me or think the same way as I do. I learned this at 8 years old and recognized our world is comprised of many different people. It’s great to understand that everyone doesn’t think or look like I do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have commonalities.”

Langston attributes this shift in her education to become the person she is today. Her inspiration is from the Condoleezza Rice quote: “Education is transformational. It changes lives. That is why people work so hard to become educated and why education has always been the key to the American Dream, the force that erases arbitrary divisions of race and class and culture and unlocks every person’s God-given potential.”

Speaking from her personal experience, Langston attributes the education she received from the newly integrated school to help her reach her God-given potential of being a writer. She had opportunities to write for the Peanut Newspaper and Sunburst Literary Magazine while attending Suffolk High School, which led to more while attending Howard University.

“I always talk about the impact of true stories,” Langston said. “They open minds to think differently and be opened to new possibilities. I hope that reading my story and the other stories will help readers understand the challenges during this time and how we overcame these challenges in a way that was new.”

This book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart and most places where books are sold.