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Sylvia L. Colding

About the Author

Sylvia L. Colding

Sylvia Lynn Colding is a Detroit, Michigan native but lived in Arizona for over twenty-five years and currently resides in California. After retiring from a thirty-year career as an administrator in higher education, she now focuses on her love of writing stories. Sylvia spent the last decade reading and writing short stories with characters and stories that have a palpable spark. Writing a novel was always on her bucket list, and now, it has become a reality. Her passion for writing is evident in Surviving Mercy Valley, which was a six-year project providing stories about the people who live in an African American community during the 1940s.  Told in nine stories, she explores characters who represent the residents of Mercy Valley and their challenges. Surviving Mercy Valley is Sylvia’s inaugural book.

SURVIVING MERCY VALLEY:  Moving From Trauma to Triumph


In the 1940s, America had many areas across the country that were self-sustaining for black folks, known as Negroes. They left the South to avoid discrimination and escape the Jim Crow movement. There was one such place in a midwestern city know as Mercy Valley. Mercy Valley had a myriad of businesses and entertainment establishments that brought in Negro celebrities to perform. Valley residents were diverse- successful business owners who spoke standard English and lived with wealth along with poorer residents who struggled economically and spoke broken English with a southern dialect. Still, despite the resident’s circumstances, there was a strong sense of community where belonging and support was everyone’s answer to surviving and sometimes even thriving.  


While Mercy Valley residents, like Sadie and Francis, had to contend with unexpected losses, others like Etta, her daughter, Gwen, and the LeBeau’s had to move beyond their circumstances to create new ways of living. Velma and Brady had to figure out how to protect themselves from violence. The first from the love of her life and the latter from a situation he initiated. Patricia and Ruth both kept their focus on their reputation, one as a privileged community member and the other as a Christian. Finally, Billy, a teenage shoeshine boy and family breadwinner, has learned to do whatever is needed to provide food and shelter for his small family. He fortunately finds an advocate whose kindness and caring becomes his saving grace.  

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