WHILE I RUN THIS RACE

a memoir by Dr. Pocahontas Gertler

This African-Native American woman, born in the deep South during the Depression era, chronicles her courageous journey into the 21st Century. This is her story of persistence and triumph, of loss and struggle, of love and transcendence. It will heal, inspire, encourage and touch deep places in your heart.

Selected for sale at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian!

Pocahontas GertlerPocahontas Gertler, LHD,  born in the Deep South, got her primary and secondary education in pre-Civil Rights era Georgia and Florida, and graduated from National College with a BA in Sociology.  She later went on to earn her Master of Education degree from Chestnut Hill College.

As a student, she helped integrate a college in a segregated environment. She has been a social worker, a chaplain's assistant in the United States Air Force, a trained singer of classical music, a mother, a lecturer, a teacher, an entrepreneur and an author.

Now retired and living in Northern Arizona, Pocahontas and her husband Gene have devoted much of their time to volunteer work on two Indian reservations in Arizona.

In June 2012 Pocahontas was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) from Northcentral University for her lifetime of achievement and contribution to her community.

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A Story Circle Book Reviews Editors' Pick:

In this lovingly written memoir, Pocahontas Gertler reminds us gently but firmly of the importance of story in transformation of individuals, communities, or society as a whole. Gertler grew up in the deep South during the Thirties and Forties, the daughter of a Native American mother and an African American father. She experienced poverty and racism firsthand, and saw the effects that these had on the people around her. She writes movingly of what it was like to be dark-skinned in world where light skin equalled beauty, even within her own family. I was intrigued by her account of life under segregation, something which is difficult for me to imagine, having been born in the North after the Civil Rights Movement had already begun to bear fruit nationwide.

Gertler tells us of her experiences in Catholic school, and later a boarding school and college. She shares her feelings of insecurity while at the same time telling us of how she worked, in her own quiet, steady way, to beat down the walls of racism in any way she was able. She welcomes us into her heart and mind as she takes us down the path she traveled from an abusive marriage to one based on love and mutual respect. Her hope and optimism despite having seen the dark side of humanity again and again is a lesson for all of us.

Gertler is not a movie star. She is not a famous athlete or a world traveller. To some, her story might seem unimportant. But in the end, it is extremely important, as she opens a window into another world for many of us, using simple language, strong emotion and a quiet wit to give a voice to many who otherwise may have remained forever without a voice of their own.

Reviewed by Khadijah Lacina, http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org


Dear Poco, 

I was with Joan this weekend at Richmond Pond and she showed me your book and encouraged me to read it.  Most of my reading is in philosophy and theology.  Since my eyesight is waning,  I hesitated but complied and took up the book.  As I started reading, I found myself deeply engrossed in the poignant recounting of your life.  I couldn't put the book down, and when Joan would try to engage me in conversation,  I had to tell her, "Joan, forgive me, I am reading."  Then  I reluctantly put the book down, listened to Joan, then eagerly picked the book up again.  It truly is a page-turner.  When I had to interrupt my reading for various reasons, I would take up the book at the first opportunity. I suppose this is the kind of eagerness an author hopes for from potential readers.  Your mastery of story-telling is consummate; but your life lends itself to a compelling narrative.  What amazes me is your uncanny memory of events from early childhood. to the present  All the intimate facts and images that lie in your incredible memory and your sensitivity and wisdom leave me with radical amazement.  Having read your book and been a witness to your incredible life's journey, I feel deprived that you are not geographically closer so that I could be the beneficiary of your faith, courage and optimism.  Joan had told me that Gene urged you to write the book.  After having read the book,I can easily understand why:  not only do you have an incredible story to share but your are a magnificent story-teller.

I congratulate you for your profound authorship and send fond regards to you.

                                          Chaim P,     Author  


REVIEW POSTED ON AMAZON.COM 

A dear friend recommended this book to me. I have thanked her countless times. Pocahontas recounts in loving, heart-breaking, inspiring detail the stages of her Life. Because she is of dual ancestry, as am I, I could readily relate to her on many levels. The parallels of her journey and the similar journeys of members of my Mother's family were touching and personal.  

Ms. Gertler shows her resilience, determination and instinct to survive with a positive spirit in spite of all the trials she went through as well as the ones she bore personal witness to. Some of the chapters were difficult to read since they were so painful. I imagined my forebears in similar situations and remembered stories they had told me throughout my childhood. Memories came flooding back and I made prayers to thank them for blazing the path which we walk today.  

At times, it became a little 'preachy' in my opinion, but the overall message overshadowed that. For a first book, her style was cohesive, flowing, concise and deeply moving. Reading this book was an enriching experience and I am grateful she decided to share her story with us. 

                                                Lorna R,   Author/Producer


Dear Poco,

I finished your book. Wow, what a roller coaster ride it was. If it was your intent to express your innermost thoughts and feelings, I believe you succeeded. That made the book exceptionally personal and absorbing.

In your early childhood, you had every opportunity to quit, withdraw, become bitter and resigned to your fate, but you rose above your situations and found success at every turn. If you credit your faith for your accomplishments and your positive attitude then hooray to faith.

Peter B


My Dearest Poco,

I knew your memoir would be wonderful, but it was more than wonderful! It is a magnificently painted portrait of the struggles and pain in your young life as you grew up in a racist segregated society that tried to squelch your spirit. I continued reading with a tissue in my hand as you left home and kept striving for excellence and acceptance against all odds in your schooling, mission work and Air Force career.

Ruth M.


Si Yo Poco,

I just finished reading your memoir - you did a wonderful job of sharing all of your feelings. Writing this book was quite an undertaking and a great job.

Wado for sharing with me.

Chief Buffy R.


Poco! Bravo! Great Read!! That really gave me a greater understanding of who you are and the things you have encountered in your life! Happy times, hard times, good times, and sad times. You never know! Your story was great and I so… enjoyed reading it! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Carolyn S.


Dear Poco,

I finished reading your book on Sunday, and am still in awe of the spirit of grace and gentleness that infuses your every word and step and deed, despite everything that life has sent your way.

One such turn of fate after another would have left so many people reeling, dazed, and despairing. The fact that you are still standing, and somehow face each day with gratitude for its gifts, only serves to remind me of what an extraordinary person you are and how blessed I am to know you.

Judy B.


Dearest Poco,

I finished reading your book this afternoon. I've experienced a whole gamut of emotions as I followed your life, with sadness and admiration predominating. You are even more amazing than I imagined!!! But you recognize that you could not have survived your "crucible" without your faith in God, a recurring theme in your book.

Eunice L.

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Ebook edition available for Kindle, the Nook, the iPad, and other ebook devices.

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