Monday, June 25, 2012

African American Family Histories

On July 11th, EPL is proud to welcome Rachel Swarns, author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama.  Tracing the First Lady's ancestry from the Revolutionary War to the White House, this inspiring history unearths the hidden story of her family tree while telling the collective tale of our changing nation.The book is already a publishing sensation, with a front page review in last week's New York Times Book Review, and a thoughtful interview from Chicago's own Dawn Turner Trice .

Of course, Michelle's is not the only black family history to make the bestseller list. Ever since Roots, the field of African American family memoirs has been a rich one. Celebrities like Lena Horne and Gail Lumet Buckley in  The Hornes, an American Family, Condoleeza Rice in Extraordinary Ordinary People and Michele Norris in The Grace of Silence have all explored their family histories, often with startling results. As in the Swarn book, uncomfortable truths about racial mixing play a large role. Family memoirs from non-celebrities, like Bertice Berry's  The Ties That Bind , Edward Ball's Slaves in the Family, or Afi Scrubb's Claiming Kin Confronting the History of An African-American Family have also explored this fraught history of slavery, consensual and non-consensual relationships between white men and black women, and the contradictory definitions of "race" which resulted.

Now through July 11th, EPL is featuring a display of these and other African American family memoirs. Stopby, and also grab a copy of our July 10th discussion book The GQ Candidate!