Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens was born in Washington, DC, to a Pennsylvania father and a south Florida mother. In 1947, the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, arriving when the first bombings of African American establishments had begun. As Marcia grew up, she was profoundly affected by her exposure to the wrongs of Jim Crow, the ongoing atrocities, and pervasive injustice. Later, as a young mother, she and her then-husband participated in Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement.

Herman-Giddens attended St John's College in Annapolis, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina, receiving her DrPH there in 1994. Just as the political climate of her childhood inspired her interest in racial justice and genealogy, her educational and life experiences fostered her love of books, nature, gardening, and the wide world of adventure. Dr. Herman-Giddens spent her career years in North Carolina, in the areas of medicine, public health, research, scientific writing, and advocacy, primarily involving children. Her scientific papers have been published in numerous medical journals and books.

More recently, Herman-Giddens has turned her research and writing skills to her family ancestral history. Her debut book, Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree, interweaves her experiences in Birmingham’s perilous apartheid world with an examination of her maternal ancestors’ slaveholding history.

She writes and gardens beside a canopy of trees outside her office window, and cherishes her large family, which now includes two great-grandchildren.

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