The Power of One: Sister Anne Brooks and the Tutwiler Clinic

Sally Palmer Thomason

I was honored to interview Sally Palmer Thomason and Jean Carter Fisher in a virtual event hosted by Novel Books in Memphis last night. We discussed their wonderful new book, The Power of One: Sister Anne Brooks and the Tutwiler Clinic. This wasn’t the first time these two writers have collaborated on a book about an amazing woman who “made a ruckus” in the Mississippi Delta. Their first book was Delta Rainbow: The Irrepressible Betty Bobo Pearson. Both books were published by University Press of Mississippi.

This time it’s Sister Anne Brooks, a catholic nun who becomes a Doctor of Osteopathy and serves for 34 years in a clinic in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in Tallahatchie County, the poorest county in the nation. Her work caught the eye of People Magazine and was also featured on 60 Minutes. Brooks’ holistic approach to healing fought racism and affected the whole community through her many initiatives, including literacy lessons, an emergency food bank, home repair clinics, nutrition education, parenting training and crisis intervention to prevent sexual abuse. Thomason also captures Brooks’ personal longings and deep faith, even sharing her poetic musings. Here’s a short excerpt from one of them:

I have chosen cotton as a symbol.
In its beauty,
It reflects the ambiguity of the Delta . . . .
It is tough.
It is beautiful. It is mesmerizing.
Like the Delta and its people.

Jean Carter Fisher

As Thomason says in the book, “Sister Anne’s unique power broke two glass ceilings–one of patriarchy and the other of allopathic medicine.”

And as Fisher said in a Zoom video hosted by Novel Books in Memphis, “She made a ruckus.”

Buy this book. Read it. Share it.