HerStory: Beverly Jenkins – Celebrating the Unsung

Celebrating Women’s History Month at Read-A-Romance!

Since some of my favorite books are set in a variety of historical time-periods, I thought it would be fun to check in with some great authors in romance and women’s historical fiction, and explore their connection to history. Since the female perspective in history and fiction has been ignored so often, for so long, I find it heartening to see so many books representing romance and/or women’s history, telling such mesmerizing stories against the backdrop of some of the most intriguing and pivotal moments in time. I hope you find these essays as fascinating and fun as I do. You can see the full calendar of authors here.

Did you miss Read-A-Romance Month in August? Be sure to check out all the great “Joy of Romance” essays at the 2015 Calendar and if you’d like, you can follow RARM  on Facebook.

Shining Light on the Unsung

For me, Women’s History Month is every month because in doing research for my historicals, I invariably come across women who are I like to term – unsung.  Women whose names and accomplishments have been lost Forbiddenthrough time. 

Take for example the outspoken 19th century abolitionist Maria W. Stewart, who on September 21, 1832 became the first American born woman to speak to a mixed gender audience.  Before her ground breaking speech that day at Boston’s Franklin Hall, it was deemed unseemly for women to lecture at public gathering.  (Maria Stewart’s Wikipedia page.)

Another formidable unsung is the fearless Apache female warrior Lozen, who fought beside her brother Victorio, and after his death, beside Geronimo in an effort to reclaim the freedom of her people. (Lozen’s Wikipedia page.)

We know the history books used in our schools fail epically when it comes to telling the stories of people of color but the same can be said of their treatment of women, no matter their race. Most American students know nothing about British born Elizabeth Blackwell, who in 1849 became the first woman in America to gain a medical degree, and it is certain they don’t know that fifteen years later, African American Rebecca Lee received her MD from the New England Medical College.  (Elizabeth Blackwell’s Wikipedia page.)

Facts such as these can empower and further the dreams and aspirations of little girls, so I’ve taken it upon myself to bring as many unsung back into the light as I can by using my books to highlight their lives – women like Sissereta Jones, the first African-American woman to sing at what would later become Carnegie Hall and who shared her agent with Mark Twain.  (Sissereta Jones’ Wikipedia page.)

Yes, Harriet Tubman led slaves to freedom but she was also one of the Union Army’s most celebrated spies topazduring the Civil War.  Harriet Tubman’s Wikipedia page

In 1881, the African-American washerwomen of Atlanta staged a sit down strike over wages and conditions that not only brought the city to its knees but paved the way for future labor unions like the AFL-CIO and the UAW. (You’ve never heard of this strike, I’ll bet. .) (Read more about it at the aflcio site.)

So much of women’s history is lost, but if we as moms, authors, teachers, sisters, and aunts take it upon ourselves to bring at least one unsung moment or person back to the forefront, our girls and the nation will reap the benefits.

Beverly recommends:

Two up and coming historical romance writers:

Alyssa Cole  –  alyssacole.com

Piper Huguley  –  piperhuguley.com (Read Piper’s #HerStory post here.)


Questions for the Author

Tell us about a moment when you felt a deep connection to history. 

I felt a deep connection when my fans and I toured some of the African – American history sites in Charleston SC a few years ago.  (watch a video here.) 

Do you have a specific place or sound that makes you feel connected to history? Why? 

I love Savannah, the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and Charleston SC because the area is so steeped in African- American history.

What is your (or a) favorite historical era or event?

My favorite era is the  19th century.  Favorite event – The Exodus of 1879. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Is there a moment in your research when some specific historical moment or event came to life for you? Tell us about it.

I love westerns, so researching Indian Territory for my historical TOPAZ and learning about great lawmen like  Bass Reeves, Sonny Sixkiller and the Lighthorse Police helped me realize the important roles played by men of color in the Wild West.

And for fun ~ Tell us about your Favorite Historical Crush. ;o) (This can be either a historical or fictional crush.) Why?

Favorite Historical Crush: Deputy Marshal Dixon Wildhorse a Black Seminole lawman I created for TOPAZ. He is all that!

 

Beverly is generously giving away two copies of Topaz. (US only apologies to international friends.) To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST April 10,2016. Good luck!


Bev jenkinsMs. Jenkins is the nation’s premier writer of African – American historical romance fiction and specializes in 19th century African American life. She’s a USA TODAY best-selling author, an NAACP Image Award nominee and has over thirty published novels to date.

Learn more:

www.beverlyjenkins.net        |           Facebook           |        Twitter

 

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