• Say I’m Dead

    by E. Dolores Johnson
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    Say I’m Dead
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June 17, 2020

E. Dolores Johnson

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes noted diversity consultant E. DOLORES JOHNSON for a discussion of her memoir Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love. She will be joined in conversation by author and Director of GrubStreet's Muse and the Marketplace writing conference SONYA LARSON.

Details

Say I’m Dead is the true story of family secrets, separation, courage, and transformation through five generations of interracial relationships. Fearful of prison time—or lynching—for violating Indiana’s antimiscegenation laws in the 1940s, E. Dolores Johnson’s black father and white mother fled Indianapolis to secretly marry in Buffalo, New York.

When Johnson was born, social norms and her government-issued birth certificate said she was Negro, nullifying her mother’s white blood in her identity. Later, as a Harvard-educated business executive feeling too far from her black roots, she searched her father’s black genealogy. But in the process, Johnson suddenly realized that her mother’s whole white family was—and always had been—missing. When she began to pry, her mother’s 36-year-old secret spilled out. Her mother had simply vanished from Indiana, evading an FBI and police search that had ended with the conclusion that she had been the victim of foul play.

About Author(s)

E. Dolores Johnson has consulted on diversity for think tanks, universities, major corporations and nonprofits and has served as a panelist for the Harvard Faculty Seminar on Inter-racialism. Johnson is a former Fortune 500 marketing vice president who later oversaw the digitization of John F. Kennedy's presidential papers. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Howard University. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sonya Larson is Director of GrubStreet‘s Muse and the Marketplace writing conference, and is an organizer the Boston Writers of Color Group. She received her MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Best American Short StoriesAmerican Short FictionAmerican Literary ReviewPoets & Writers, and more. She lives in Somerville, MA.