By Piper Huguley
In ten days, the third book in my “Migrations of the Heart” series, A Treasure of Gold, will be released. It takes place in 1923 Pittsburgh, but has a risky premise. I knew this premise would be quite a risk for a Christian romance because the hero, Jay Evans is a numbers kingpin. Numbers (some call it policy) was an early ancestor of the lottery. A runner would come by and take up your number and your money stakes for that day. Sometimes you would win, sometimes you wouldn’t. The winning number for the day could be determined in a number of ways. Sometimes it might be determined by where the stocks ended up on the NY Stock Exchange.
There are those who call this gambling, a dicey (no pun intended) proposition for a Christian romance. However, my Jay Evans runs his numbers game as a microfinance bank, with the windfall going to whomever needs it most in the community. Jay knew the big downtown banks in Pittsburgh didn’t wish to service African American customers. Running the numbers game as a bank was his way of creating a financial entity that all people could participate in.
Nathan Thompson in Kings talks about how, in real life, the numbers kingpins did things in the Black community that the city or state would not do. They built parks, gave scholarships to promising young people for their education and loaned money to people in need. They understood that, for African Americans, collecting up numbers monies represented the only way they could fully participate in the life of the larger society.
The numbers game may have been gambling, but what of the larger moral issue of neglecting the concerns and needs of an entire population because of the color of their skin? Jay Evans, and the numbers men he was based on, believed that they were their human brother’s keeper. Some may question their approach, but they sought to right the wrong of racism in their own particular way.
A Treasure of Gold, Piper Huguley’s newest book in the “Migration of the Heart” series will be released on November 10, 2015. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Nook, itunes and Google Play.