Every year’s end brings a bevy of “favorite book” lists. Many titles appear on multiple lists. I’ve compiled the following list from multiple sources, including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Good Housekeeping, NPR, Buzzfeed, Barack Obama’s annual list, and others. Make a commitment this year to read something by an author who isn’t like you (different gender, race, or nationality) or a book in a genre you don’t typically read.
After almost six years of research and writing, I am thrilled to announce that University Press of Kentucky will be publishing my historical nonfiction book. The publisher has changed my working title and the book will be published as Liberty Brought Us Here: The True Story of American Slaves Who Migrated to Liberia.
Sixteen thousand black people—freeborn or freed from slavery—left the United States in the 1800s and sailed for Liberia, Africa. They were escaping America’s oppression and bigotry and seeking freedom, peace, and security in a new land. It was the largest out-migration in American history. The so-called colonization movement was highly controversial. Some black people supported it; others vehemently opposed it. Some white people, including slave owners, supported it; others opposed it. The land where these colonists settled was home to numerous indigenous groups, some of whom welcomed the newcomers and others who battled with them.
On the day after Independence Day 1836, two families from Kentucky, the Majors and Harlans, set sail aboard the Luna. They landed in Bassa Cove, Liberia, several weeks later. Though of African descent, they were not African and were ill-prepared for the disease, dangers, and disasters that awaited them. Their former owner had taught them to read and write, and for fifteen years, they maintained a correspondence with him. Their surviving letters form the heart of my book.
The book will be in the University Press of Kentucky spring 2020 catalog.