The Joy of Book Events

Book events have begun and I could not be more excited.

I am so happy to finally share North of Dixie with everyone. After years of working by yourself on a project (save the talented editors, designers, and production team), there is no greater joy than finally getting to see what images and stories resonate with readers.

My absolute favorite part of readings and signings is meeting new people and hearing their stories. It’s fascinating to hear how friends new and old relate to the work. Just this week I met a half dozen folks doing incredible work restaging plays, working with Restorative Justice, making art, and protecting voting rights in Milwaukee.

These personal connections and opportunities to converse with someone I only just met are all too brief, but very powerful and often stick with me for days.

One particular interaction, this time by email, came the morning after my Wisconsin Book Festival talk in Madison. A local photographer, Lewis Koch, thanked me for sharing my research and thoughts on civil rights era photography. The highlight of the email exchange was seeing the absolutely gorgeous picture below Koch took over five decades earlier when he was just 15 or 16 years-old. koch_lewis540web

LEWIS KOCH, Dr. King Speaking at a Rally, 1965 (used with permission)

Description from the National Portrait Gallery website:

“I made this photograph when I was 15 or 16 years old. My family and I were active members of the Long Island chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), and I had the great privilege of hearing Dr. King speak a few times in the mid-1960’s.

In the late 1970’s I discovered a roll of film in the basement of my parents’ house. For some unknown reason, I had never developed it. I remember having a miniature twin-lens reflex camera which used 127 roll film, by then already obsolete, so developing reels were difficult to find. Upon processing it, I discovered this image. I still consider it to be one of the most significant images I’ve made over the course of fifty years of picture-making.

The event at which Dr. King was speaking was a fair housing rally in West Hempstead, NY. He was speaking from the back of a pickup truck, and I had the advantage of being small enough at the time to work my way to the front of the crowd to make this picture.

It’s hard to express just how moving it was to see the negative appear—somewhat diminished by time, but still there, with the ghosted figure of a childhood hero returning from beyond the pale, 15 years later.”

Thank you so much Lewis for sharing this photograph and the story behind it.

I am so grateful for these types of interactions and can’t wait to meet more people at my upcoming events.  Please be sure to introduce yourself.

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