Published March 19, 2022

Robert Shetterly, author of (Portraits of Racial Justice: Americans Who Tell the Truth) discusses his comprehensive, multimedia collection of portraits addressing America’s history of social, environmental, and economic injustices, in conversation with Andrea Douglas. A selection of these portraits were included in an exhibit at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in 2019.

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“The work of Robert Shetterly is the work of a brilliant artist who cares about a living, breathing democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people―and not being saddled to a brittle history of the past. Inspired by vibrant paths of engagement, Shetterly’s Portraits of Racial Justice is a loving chronicle of charismatic change in the name of transformative and passionate leadership across disciplines, race, gender, and beliefs. This project is more than a series of spirited portraits, it is a masterpiece of revolutionary ideas.” ―Terry Tempest Williams

“Situated powerfully and beautifully at the intersection of art and history, Portraits of Racial Justice: Americans Who Tell the Truth inspires, teaches, and captivates.” —LaVonda N. Reed

“What history do you stand on? What future do you stand for? Robert Shetterly’s dazzling portraits cut through the gauzy cotton wool that entangles us, shake us awake from the deep American sleep of denial, and invite us to question the taken-for-granted as we rise up and move beyond the United States of Amnesia. Here are the peace-makers and the freedom fighters, the dissidents and dissenters, the loving rebels and the justice-seeking radicals―those who know that in an era of ‘alternate facts,’ duplicity and fraud, the simple truth can itself be revolutionary, and the fundamental, first questions can become our guide: Who are your people? Who do you claim? Where do we want to go?” —Bill Ayers

“Teachers: Introduce your students to Robert Shetterly’s magnificent portraits of racial justice and invite young people to join the current of conscience that flows through our history. How can one not feel hope when surrounded by these defiant truth-tellers―painted by Shetterly with love and respect. This book is a gift to educators; it belongs in every classroom in the United States.” —Bill Bigelow


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.

Community Partner

We appreciate the support of our community partner for helping share information about this event: Jefferson School African American Heritage Center 

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