Book About Michelle Obama Leads Off Amistad Center’s Author Series

Journalist Rachel L. Swarns, author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, leads off The Amistad Center's author series on Feb. 7.

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture will be presenting authors@mistad (Authors at Amistad), a thought-provoking discussion series that will bring leading authors and insightful conversation to the Capitol region this year.  

The four-author series gets off to an engaging and revealing start on Thursday, February 7, 5:30 – 7:30 PM, at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art with veteran New York Times journalist Rachel L. Swarns, author of the critically acclaimed American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, in conversation with Pamela Trotman Reid, Ph.D., President of the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford. 

It marks the first time that the Amistad Center has offered an author series, following many successful individual author and book signing events in recent years.

American Tapestry was selected as one of the “100 Notable Books of 2012” by The New York Times Book Review, and described by Essence magazine as a “meticulously researched and eloquently written real-life detective story.”  In reviewing the book, published in 2012 by HarperCollins, The Washington Post noted that “In Mrs. Obama’s DNA is the best and the worst of America, a narrative and a heritage that we need to know and acknowledge. Swarns forces us to take a hard look at that heritage. For that alone, this book is a worthy and significant endeavor.”

Rachel Swarns has been a correspondent for The New York Times since 1995, and has reported on domestic policy and national politics, immigration, the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008 and First Lady Michelle Obama. She has been a foreign correspondent for the Times, reporting from Russia, Cuba and Southern Africa, where she served as the Johannesburg bureau chief. She has also worked for the Miami Herald, where she covered the L.A. riots and the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, and at the St. Petersburg Times.

Pamela Trotman Reid, Ph.D. has served as President of the University of Saint Joseph since January, 2008. She has skillfully worked to build upon the University's reputation for academic excellence and ensure its commitment to integrity, women’s leadership, and service, and has become a respected voice in the Greater Hartford region.  A developmental psychologist, she is nationally-known as a scholar in gender and racial issues and as an active participant in scholarly organizations.

“We are tremendously honored to launch our series with two distinguished women who excel in their respective fields.  The evening promises to deliver a stimulating and illuminating conversation about American Tapestry and First Lady Michelle Obama,” said Amistad Center Executive Director Olivia S. White. “Rachel Swarms has researched and written a chronicle of one family and many generations of the all-too-real American experience, in a manner that powerfully describes not only what took place, but the ramifications still being felt today.”

Individuals planning to attend the author events are encouraged to read the books in advance.  Questions about American Tapestry may be emailed to amistadcenter@wadsworthatheneum.org prior to Feb. 7.  Individuals who submit questions will receive two free passes to the Wadsworth Atheneum.  In addition, there will be “trivia” questions asked of the audience about aspects of the book, and those who answer correctly will be entered in a drawing to win a pair of tickets to one of The Amistad Center’s major gala events. 

Advance reservations for the author series events are required; the nominal charge is $5.  Each event in the series begins with a reception, followed by the conversation.   Books will be on sale and there will be a book signing at each event. To RSVP for one or all of the authors@amistad series events, call 860-838-4133 or email amistadcenter@wadsworthatheneum.org.

The Feb. 7 event and the authors@mistad series are free for members of The Amistad Center, Wadsworth Atheneum, Let’s Go Arts card holders, Windsor Art Center, and the students and staff of the University of Saint Joseph and The Hartt School of the University of Hartford.

authors@mistad is made possible by Amistad Center members and a generous grant from Connecticut Humanities.  For additional information, call 860.838.4133 or visit amistadartandculture.org.

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