I wrote Red Summer in part because I was worried much of this important American history had been forgotten. Almost all of the key sites of bloody 1919 remain unmarked and unknown.
I started the book at Carswell Grove Baptist Church in Jenkins County, Ga., a black rural congregation founded in 1867. On April 13, 1919, black farmer Joe Ruffin was visiting a festival at the church when his prosperous life was ruined in a bloody moment. It was the first major outbreak of white mob violence in a season that historian John Hope Franklin called “the greatest period of interracial strife the nation has ever witnessed.” Riots and lynchings swept from Charleston to San Francisco to Chicago to Washington to small towns across the South.
I visited Carswell Grove several times in the course of my research and was haunted by the forlorn church, built in 1919 on the ashes of first church, which was destroyed by a white mob. Today, no monument or plaque marks the attack, and the church is in such a sorry state that the dwindled congregation has abandoned it, moving to a cinderblock building nearby. The run-down church symbolized for me how much of this history is slipping away.
So I was thrilled when church members contacted me recently and told me they were raising funds to restore the historic property. They’ve asked me to come and talk on Oct. 12 beginning at 10:30 a.m. All Welcome.
News report on the effort here.
Watch the February 2013 talk at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria here.
Great visiting at NOVA’s Alexandria campus today and talking with students and staff, especially Prof. Shonette Grant, who organized the event.
I’ll be giving a talk on the Red Summer at NOVA at 2 p.m. on Feb. 19. Looking forward to talking with students and faculty about the book.
For location, click here.
Great crowd and productive two-hour discussion (and nice lunch afterward) at the Jeff Maxwell Library in Augusta. Thanks so much to everyone who came out and thanks to the library’s book club for organizing.
On Sept. 27 at 10 a.m., I will be discussing my book at the Jeff Maxwell Branch of the East Central Georgia Regional Library system, 1927 Lumpkin Rd. in Augusta, Ga., for more information call 706-793-2020.
The talk is free and open to the public.
I will be speaking about Red Summer at 10 a.m., Sept. 27, in Augusta to several book clubs and the general public. The talk will be held at the Jeff Maxwell Branch Library of the East Central Georgia Regional Library, 1927 Lumpkin Rd., Augusta, GA 30906. (706) 793-2020.
A part of the talk will review racial violence in east Georgia during 1919.
Book will be available for purchase and signing.
Barbara Williams is reading Red Summer in its entirety for the African-American Lives and Literature show on WYPL FM 89.3 in Memphis. The station is a radio reading service for people with impaired vision. Ms. Williams is presenting daily readings of the book daily from now until Sept. 9.
Like to read and to read aloud? Think about volunteering for a radio reading service near you.
Engaging discussion at the A.C.T.O.R talk about Red Summer at Busboys & Poets last Sunday. Lots of great questions and commentary from the many who came. It also was good to meet owner Andy Shallal, who sat in, and Pamela Pinnock, who organizes the “A Continuing Talk About Race” talks.
The community space/restaurant/bookstore is a rarity in Washington and in the country. Next time you are in D.C., be sure to check out one of their locations. I spoke at the main Busboys & Poets branch on 14th Street, not far from where major violence erupted during the riot of 1919.
Before the talk.
On Sunday, May 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., I will join a discussion about Red Summer and the racial violence of 1919 at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. The talk is part of the A.C.T.O.R. (A Continuing Talk on Race) series. Busboys & Poets has hosted these monthly dialogues for years, working to increase people’s understanding of racial issues in the D.C. community and the country as a whole. I look forward to the talk. All welcome to this free event. For information, call (202) 387-7638.