Bookworms will be able to add two new books to their collections next Saturday.
S. Wayne and Carolee Maxwell will be signing copies of their books "Touched by Greatness" and "Slim Pickins’’ Saturday, June 15 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center at 540 Ed Noble Pkwy.
“My grandfather shared lots of stories with me and shared the things of life,” Carolee said about the inspiration behind "Touched by Greatness." “That’s why I wanted my husband to write the book and me tell the story.”
Her investigation into her grandfather’s unique role in history led her to Mercersburg Academy, a prestigious Pennsylvania college-preparatory school, where her Choctaw grandfather Charles Watson McGilberry and two other Native American boys attended on scholarship after being selected by businessman and philanthropist Rodman Wanamaker in 1914.
Carolee said the program was an experiment to see if Native Americans could thrive in an Ivy League setting.
“Mr. Wanamaker [tried] to prove that they could achieve,” Wayne said.
McGilberry did exactly that in 1917 when he became the first Native American to graduate from Mercersburg.
McGilberry’s history-making achievements continued when he became the first Native American commissioned as a U.S. Army officer while serving in World War I and later continued his education at Princeton.
“My Grandfather was the first,” Carolee said. “This book is an encouragement … for young people and for every age group.”
Although the story is inspirational overall, the Maxwells did not leave out the hardships Carolee’s grandfather faced.
“Part of the story is the discrimination and the prejudice … that took place,” Wayne said.
In addition to participating in book signings around Oklahoma, the Maxwells also share McGilberry’s story with students.
“We tell students as well that if you have the desire to achieve and have a passion for what you would like to achieve, don’t let anything get in the way of what you would like to become,” Carolee said.
Mercersburg Academy also takes pride in the part it played in this piece of history. In April 2017 the academy invited the Maxwells to a day of celebration in honor of the 100th anniversary of McGilberry’s graduation.
“If a little Indian kid from the Southeastern Oklahoma Kiamichi mountains can do it, so can you,” Wayne said.
Wayne’s most recent book, ‘Slims Pickins’,’ will also be available at the signing and tells of Wayne’s experiences building a football team from scratch in rural Oklahoma in the late 1970s.
"Touched by Greatness" can be purchased for $17.99 and "Slim Pickins’’ for $14.99 at Barnes & Noble online or in store.