pictured: Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram with cover of her latest book Dear Kamala
Dr.Peggy Brooks- Bertram, author, educator, social historian and community activist who is also President and co-founder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc. will be virtually launching her latest book and definite must have- Dear Kamala: Women Write to the New Vice President on February 2.
Compiled and edited by Dr. Bertram, Dear Kamala (published on Indiana University Press/Red Lightning Books) is a dynamic compilation of 100 heartfelt, and emotionally moving letters to America’s first Black and Woman Vice President, a project she began working on when Biden announced Harris as his running mate.
“It’s so important to have a means by which ordinary people can have a chance to express themselves about this extraordinary person,” she said in reference to the book.
In Dear Kamala Dr. Bertram bridges the gap, bringing women of all ages, races and nations who, as she notes are “living at different points in their lives having had very different experiences together in one book telling their stories letter by letter.”
The book shares generational thoughts, concerns and feelings written to Vice President Harris. It shares the writers hopes, fears, desires, advice and support as well as their personal stories and the all-too familiar tales of racial injustices suffered.
The letters have also been described as a call to action for those who will be at Vice President Harris’s side through the next four years.
As the unbreakable bond of solidarity for Harris continues to grow larger than some may even realize, Bertram is excited to see and be part of this long overdue moment in history.
“It’s absolutely incredible. One can only remark on how historic an occasion this is; that this woman is one breath away from the Presidency, that African American women who have been maligned for centuries in this country from slavery, even after slavery and to the present time, today can proudly say one of our own has achieved one of the most important positions not only in the USA but in the world.” She continued, “young Indian, Latino, Mexican and Native American women can also stick their chest out with pride recognizing that they are part of this tradition of Black women working day and night to be able to serve their country and serve their people.”
While working on the book, Bertram was able to use the power of social media and zoom chats and other avenues of communication during the process to connect with writers and other support organizations that have changed her forever. Groups like Black Women Gather, Black Women for Kamala Harris, and millennial organizations like Black Girl Nerds among others. “We were all talking to one another, supporting each other, sharing relevant photos, information and stories. We learned so much from one another during this process, I’ll never be the same as a result of it.” said Dr. Bertram.
Out of the 100 letters, there are twenty known voices from the Buffalo community, among them: Sharon Amos, Crystal Barton, Sandra Williams Bush, Louise B. Carey, Patrice Cathey, Eva Doyle, Veronica Golden, Betty Jean Grant, Nina Heard, Sharon Holley, Mary Kapisak, Celeste Lawson, Marnetta Malcolm, Joyce Nixon, Jennifer Parker, Vonetta T. Rhodes, Shirley Sarmiento, Sandy White, Joan Simmons and Uncrowned Queens; all who took immediate action to participate and support Bertram’s mission.
“I was delighted and very pleased to have these women believe in this project.” she joyfully recalled.
One letter in particular she received was from Johnnetta Cole, the first female president of Spelman College, who helped her spread the word through The Black Women’s HBCU and other Legacy youth and millennial groups.
“What was exciting about her letter is that it’s representative of 12 Black women’s organizations nationwide with a membership of over 2.2 million people; Black women in particular who represent legacy organizations, women we depended on ,who laid the ground-work for us. I’m so happy to see so many Black women welcome Vice President Harris in this new position!”
Dr. Bertram will be celebrating the launch of Dear Kamala Tuesday February 2 with a virtual event hosted by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library at 7 p.m. She will be in conversation with many community leaders, and contributors from around the world who will read selections from their letters. The event is free and open to the public.