The Viola Factor | A Story of Love and Trauma in America’s South | Sheridan Brown

The Viola Factor
by Sheridan Brown

“The Viola Factor” takes place at a time when the country faced division and growth after the American Civil War. Viola Knapp Ruffner (1812-1903) struggled with what was just and fair, becoming a little-known confidant for a young black scholar from Virginia. But Viola was much more than a teacher; she was a mother, wife, game-changer, and friend. With her mother’s dying wish, a young woman alone, she left her New England roots. This is a story of trauma and love in the South while battling for justice and the rightful education of the enslaved and once enslaved. African American leader Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) called her his friend and model for life.
The Viola Factor is in many ways a journey of life done in baby steps, tentatively stumbling, until a galloping stride is achieved. Viola Knapp wears different shoes on different days. Heavy, mud-trekking boots to allow for aggressive steps, and daintier shoes for more rhythmic and assertive ones. She was a diligent daughter, an outspoken protector, and a progressive teacher.
Like many women in her situation, alone at seventeen, Viola must realize her own principles to fulfill her future goals. With every stride, Viola Knapp Ruffner marches around surprises, over potholes, and dodges folly after folly on her journey to be fulfilled. After ambling in one direction, plodding along in another, and wandering to find herself, a sudden halt pushes her forward until a factor of fate places her in the path of a newly freed slave with a desire to read and penchant to lead. After years of post-traumatic stress and mental uncoupling, she finds herself a woman who followed her mother’s dying wish to fight for what is fair and just.
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Sheridan Brown holds advanced degrees in school leadership and is a certified teacher, principal, and educational leader. The arts have always been a central force in her life, since performing in piano recitals, school band, plays, and singing in choirs her whole life.
Ms. Brown was born in Tennessee and raised in small towns of southwest Virginia. She practiced her profession in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Florida. Upon retirement, she began volunteering, painting, writing, researching, and traveling with her husband, attorney John Crawford. She has one son, Tony Hume. She is GiGi to Aiden and Lucy. She has returned to the Blue Ridge to live and explore.
Author Links
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