Published March 17, 2022

Writers Anneliese Bruner (great-granddaughter to the author of The Nation Must Awake), Gayle Jessup White (Reclamation), and Steve Majors (High Yella) share their histories and life stories, offering a close look at Black families and their legacies as seen through multiple lenses over time. In conversation with Leah Esslinger.

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“An eyewitness account of the one of the worst events in American history [The Nation Must Awake] has become a sleeper bestseller for Trinity University Press before the book’s official pub date.” ―Publishers Weekly

“In a real-life version of ‘Roots,’ Gayle Jessup White’s compelling exploration of her family ties to Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings’ family demonstrates that America’s complex racial history is written in our DNA.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

High Yella speaks to anyone yearning to feel at home in their own skin, who need to know they can belong somewhere inside a less than welcoming society. As Steve Majors eloquently reveals a legacy of racial confusion through his own personal lens, he exposes our limitations and our capacities for love, tolerance, and generosity. His foibles and insight, especially when it comes to his own children, provide us with a substantial dose of hope and inspiration. ―David Tabatsky, author of American Misfit, and coauthor of Dear President Obama


Virginia Festival of the Book staff, volunteers, partners, and attendees appreciate all of our sponsors. It is their crucial support, along with individual donors, that allows us to present the 2022 Virginia Festival of the Book almost completely free of charge. We appreciate the generous commitment from our Premier Sponsor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and these major sponsors: Michelle and David Baldacci, Dominion Energy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

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