2016 National Book Award Longlist, Nonfiction
The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
(Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House)
National Book Foundation: Who did you write this book for?
Patricia Bell-Scott: The 20-year odyssey that produced The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Struggle for Social Justice was prompted by a pointed letter from Murray, urging me “to get to know some of the veterans” who came before. I had no idea that she would die 18 months later. Or that a decade later (when I was knee-deep into the research), I’d discover that she’d always hoped someone would write about her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. My goal was to examine what drew Pauli Murray, who was the granddaughter of a mixed-race slave, and Eleanor Roosevelt, whose ancestry entitled her to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, together in friendship and the battle for social justice. I wrote the book to honor their work, with the hope that readers would be inspired by their example.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A groundbreaking book—two decades in the works—that tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.
About the Author
Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia. Her previous books include Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, which was a featured selection of The Quality Paperback Book Club and the Black Literary Guild; Flat-footed Truths: Telling Black Women’s Lives; Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, which won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize; and All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies, an award-winning textbook. She is a former contributing editor to Ms. Magazine. She is also a cofounder of the National Women’s Studies Association. Bell-Scott lives in Athens, Georgia.
- TWITTER: @PBell_Scott
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