Rita Roberts in conversation with Lisa Rayam

Author of I Can't Wait to Call You My Wife

Author Talks

Thursday, Oct 27 2022 @ 7pm

This book honors the voices of African Americans of the Civil War era through their letters, inviting readers to engage personally with the Black historical experience.

Amidst bloody battles and political maneuvering, thousands of African Americans spent the Civil War trying to hold their families together. This moving book illuminates that struggle through the letters they exchanged. Despite harsh laws against literacy and brutal practices that broke apart Black families, people found ways to write to each other against all odds. In these pages, readers will meet parents who are losing hope of ever seeing their children again and a husband who walks fifteen miles to visit his wife, enslaved on a different plantation.

The collection also includes tender courtship letters exchanged between Lewis Henry Douglass and Helen Amelia Loguen, both children of noted abolitionists, and letters sent home by the young women who traveled south to teach literacy to escaped slaves. Roberts' expert curation allows readers to see the wider historical context. The transcriptions are accompanied by reproductions of selected original letters and photographs of the letter writers.

About the Author

Rita Roberts is a writer and historian. She is currently retiring from her Professorship of History and Africana Studies at Scripps College, where she holds the Nathan Wright Stephenson Chair in History and Biography.

About the Moderator

Lisa Rayam is a broadcast journalism veteran with strong ties to the Atlanta community. She is currently the Host and Senior Producer of the “Morning Edition” on NPR‘s WABE 90.1 FM.

You may know Rayam from her 21 years at Fox 5, where she was a reporter and anchor of the noon and 6 p.m. newscasts. During her tenure there, Rayam developed a reputation as a tenacious, well-connected reporter and a trusted anchor. She is well known for her wealth of experience, extensive contacts, and credibility that comes from covering many of the biggest news stories in the state of Georgia.

Rayam has extensive experience in both radio and television. After working at Fox 5, she served as Capitol Correspondent for GPB’s LAWMAKERS Show for the past two legislative seasons. She has also worked in radio in both Phoenix and Prescott, Arizona at stations KOOL-FM and KYCA-AM. Rayam has won numerous awards for her reporting as well as many recognitions for her community service. In addition to being an Emmy Award winning journalist, she was recognized as the winner of the Top Women of Atlanta for Rolling Out Magazine in 2013. She was the 2012 Trumpet Awards High Heels Honoree as well as the Who’s Who in Atlanta Honoree in 2011. Also, in 2009, she was the recipient of an Image Award. Rayam is very active both professionally and personally as she was recently inducted into the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle. She is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.

As a philanthropist, Lisa Rayam supports many charities and organizations such as Dress for Success and My Sister’s House. She is a member of The Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and is a proud member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She is also a certified spin instructor who enjoys leading “spin to win” rides to help raise funds and awareness for local charities. Additionally, she founded Living Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Inc., which sponsors self-esteem workshops for teenage girls. Lisa Rayam believes that “being a part of any great community requires a commitment to service and getting involved."

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