Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Southern Studies Showcase-Meet the Authors

Left to right, Ellen Butler, Harris Bailey, Ethel Dailey, me, Bernice Bennett, and Vincent Sheppard.

10653579_10202968759965335_7748921395120447211_nPhotograph copyright © 2014 The Memory Keepers, used with permission

I was privileged to be the moderator of the Meet the Authors event for the book, Our Ancestors, Our Stories by the Memory Keepers; Ellen Butler, Harris Bailey, Ethel Dailey, Bernice Bennett, and Vincent Sheppard.

This book focuses on four of the authors’ slave ancestors in the Old Edgefield District in South Carolina.  The fifth author, Harris Bailey, provided the needed background information about Edgefield.  This book is a great read even if you have no African-American ancestry nor anyone in Edgefield.  Reading about the process the writers went through to discover their heritage is well worth your time. 

When I read the book one of the things I learned was that during the Revolutionary War the British promised emancipation to any slaves that escaped their owners and joined up and fought with the British.  After the Meet the Authors event I got to talking with Harris Bailey about these slaves. I was curious to know what happened to them.  Harris explained that many of these now freed slaves fled north along with the Tories/Loyalists.  Those that did received land grants in Canada.  There was a group that fled to Nova Scotia specifically and these men were not given their promised land grants.  Harris was kind enough to give me a copy of his research notes right out of his notebook so that I could do some further research on my own.

Another thing I want to mention is something that one of the attendees said (sorry, I didn’t catch your name).  He said that he loved the format of the book.  Each author had a single chapter.  He made the point that a project like this is so much more doable than trying to author an entire book by yourself.  He was hoping that other writers would be encouraged by this book to write their own collaborations so that these family stories are preserved.  I thought he made a great point.  If anyone knows the name of the nice guy wearing the glasses let me know and I will give him credit.  The authors announced that book two is in the works which everyone was happy to hear.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Bernice Bennett sent me a message to let me know that the nice guy with the good idea was John Blythe. Thank you, John, for your input. I enjoyed speaking to you at the Meet the Authors event and in the OEDGS Library :)

  2. Likewise, Michelle. The Meet the Authors event was a highlight of the Showcase, and your moderation elicited excellent comments from the authors in the very limited time allotted. Here's hoping that you will be available to repeat that role when volume 2 is released!

  3. Thanks so much for your kind comments. I look forward to seeing you again next year in Edgefield :)