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Mon, Mar 11


Sankofa Video, Books, & Café

The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

Next up we've got a special discussion between two distinguished writers, author and poet Brian Gilmore will be in conversation with David Nicholson, on his new book, The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

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The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration
The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

Time & Location

Mar 11, 2024, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Sankofa Video, Books, & Café, 2714 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

About The Event

Watch Conversation HERE

About the book:

A multigenerational story of hope and resilience, The Garretts of Columbia is an American history of Black struggle, sacrifice, and achievement.

At the heart of David Nicholson's beautifully written and carefully researched book, The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration, are his great-grandparents, Casper George Garrett and his wife, Anna Maria. Papa, as Garrett was known to his family, was a professor at Allen University, a lawyer, and an editor of three newspapers. Dubbed Black South Carolina's "most respected disliked man," he was always ready to attack those he believed disloyal to his race. When his quixotic idealism and acerbic editorials resulted in his dismissal from Allen, his wife, who was called Mama, came into her own as the family bread winner. She was appointed supervisor of rural colored schools, trained teachers, and oversaw the construction of schoolhouses. At 51, this remarkable woman learned to drive, taking to the back roads outside Columbia to supervise classrooms, conduct literacy drives, and instruct rural farm women in the basics of home economics.

Though Papa and Mama came of age in the bleak Jim Crow years after Reconstruction, they believed in the possibility of America. Resolutely supporting their country during the First World War, they sent three of their sons to serve. One son wrote a musical with Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance. Another son became a dentist. A daughter earned a doctorate in French. And the family persevered. But, for all that Papa and Mama did to make Columbia a nurturing place, their sons and daughters joined the Great Migration, scattering north in search of the freedom the South denied them.

The Garretts embraced the hope of America and experienced the melancholy of a family separated by the search for opportunity and belonging. On the basis of decades of research and thousands of family letters--which include Mama's tart-tongued observations of friends and neighbors--The Garretts of Columbia is family history as American history, rich with pivotal events viewed through the lens of the Garretts's lives.

About the author:

David Nicholson is a former editor and book reviewer for the Washington Post Book World and author of Flying Home: Seven Stories of the Secret City. The New York Times praised its “sensitivity and grace,” and the Los Angeles Times included it on a list of books that “show us where to find the real America.” It was also featured in Publisher’s Weekly as one of “7 Essential Washington, D.C., Books (That Aren’t About Politics).” Nicholson attended Haverford College before graduating from the University of the District of Columbia. He studied creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. Nicholson has worked as a reporter in San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Dayton, Ohio. He lives in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife and son.

About the host:

Brian G Gilmore was born and raised in Washington D.C.  Professor Gilmore spent 15 years in law practice most exclusively in public interest legal work, working for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. From 2005 through 2010, Gilmore developed and initiated the Fair Housing Teaching Program for the Clinical Law Center, organized programs to educate local constituents and community advocates on ever-relevant legal topics, taught Introduction to Lawyering Process for Education Administrators, and served as a guest lecturer in Professional Responsibility and Pre-Trial Litigation courses. He also designed and taught the Housing Law and the Public Interest course at Howard University. He has taught at Michigan State University from 2010-2021, as Associate Professor and Director of the Housing Law Clinic at the law college. Gilmore has approximately 50 published works to his credit, including law review articles, legal articles, commentary, reviews, and contributions to books, essays, anthologies, and encyclopedias. His works have appeared in the Washington Post, Book Forum, ABA Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, The Progressive, and the South Carollina Law Review.  A respected legal expert in the area of landlord-tenant advocacy and policy and inequality, Gilmore has delivered more than 30 panels, workshops, lectures, and presentations before a wide range of audiences. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters, a 2014 NAACP Image Award Nominee. He is both a Cave Canem Fellow and Kimbilio Fellow, and recipient of a 2020 Michigan Notable Book Award for his book, come see about me marvin (Wayne State University Press 2019).


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