In 2008, I stumbled across the tale of slave owner Ben Major and the people he freed in the mid-1830s for migration to Liberia. I was stunned to learn that they had corresponded across the Atlantic Ocean for years, and—even more astonishing—that their letters from Africa still existed. I wanted to know more. Why did Ben, who descended from a long line of slave owners, decide to free his people? Did they want to go to another country? Did they have a choice? What would life in Africa have been like? Did they survive? The newly freed Major slaves were among the 16,000 black people who left the United States under the auspices of the American Colonization Society and similar groups. It was the largest out-migration in the country’s history.
At first, my research was just to satisfy my own curiosity. Then I decided the story might make a good book; years of research, writing, and rewriting followed. The result is Liberty Brought Us Here: The True Story of American Slaves Who Migrated to Liberia, now available for pre-order from University Press of Kentucky and in bookstores in July. Order before July 31 at www.kentuckypress.com and enter the code FS30 to receive a 30 percent discount. The book can also be pre-ordered on Amazon.
I am currently scheduling author appearances, signings, etc. for the first few months after publication. Please contact me at SusanLindsey@Savvy-Comm.com if you know of a writing group, book club, historical society, library, school, or other organization that may be interested.
Every February, Kentucky Monthly publishes a special literary issue. This year, I’m thrilled that two of the featured pieces were written by friends: Bobbie Smith Bryant, “The Plumber” and Katie Glauber Bush, “Christmas Red.”
Katie, Bobbie, and I belong (with author Gayle Holman) to a writing group. We’ve met regularly over the past decade—reading and critiquing one another’s work, and sharing resources and information on contests, classes, and conferences. In the past 10 years, three of the four of us have published books; all of us have had essays published in anthologies and journals; and between us, we’ve won several first or second place prizes, and honorable mentions in regional and national writing contests.
I frequently tell my editing clients to join a writing group. It’s a great way to improve your writing and build friendships.