My plan is to write a series of posts from the road as I proceed along the tour in support of the publication of Inheriting the Trade as well as for the World Premiere of Traces of the Trade at the Sundance Film Festival. This may only prove interesting to my mother and a few writers out there who are working on their first book. So be it. Here goes…

Wednesday, January 9

The launch event for my book took place at Olsson’s bookstore in Washington, DC. I’ve learned from speaking with other authors and from reading their blogs as well as books about book publicity, that it helps to have friends in the cities you visit. One of the Associate Producers of Traces of the Trade, Catherine Benedict, really went above and beyond in this regard. She connected me with the wonderful people at Project South, who co-sponsored the event at Olsson’s by notifying their members, supporters, and colleagues about it, along with the folks at transAfrica Forum, who placed information about my appearance on their Community Events calendar online. My publicist, Leah Riviere, at Beacon Press got the word out effectively to the media. We had notices in the Washington Post and the Washington City Paper (which actually highlighted the event).

The result was that we had approximately 75 people in attendance (about double the number of chairs they’d set up at the store). People appeared interested in the story as I read excerpts and asked questions right up until we had to end the event due to the closing of the store. Dr. Joseph Harris, distinguished professor of history emeritus at Howard University, made remarks as well, for which I was both grateful and humbled. It felt like a great start in spreading the message of Inheriting the Trade, and succeeded due to the hard work of Catherine, Olsson’s books, Beacon Press and others. The advice I received from the books I’ve read certainly proved correct.

Thursday, January 10

The reason we chose the date and location for the publication launch of the book was to coincide with, and honor, the symposium being held the following day at the National Archives: Abolition and the Road to Freedom. This all-day event was organized by Dr. Harris and was held in the McGowan Theatre. It was completely sold out. It’s the one official event I’m aware of that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United States that took effect in January 1808.

The keynote address and workshops walked attendees through the history of the Transatlantic slave trade, its global scope, the perspective of African people on the trade, and contemporary implications of its abolition. The level of expertise and scholarship on the subject was simply amazing. The event was taped and we were told it will be shown on television at some point. Check in at the National Archives website for further information, and if (when) I find out, I’ll include it in a post here.

All in all, I can’t imagine a more successful launch to for the book than being here in DC for this commemoration. In addition to Katrina and me, our cousins James Perry, Holly Fulton and Bill Peebles all drove here from Boston as well. Their presence was much appreciated. There’s nothing like being supported by family and friends.

It’s off now to Duke University…