200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

What is Read Alabama 200?

Individuals representing a variety of cultural institutions and civic organizations throughout Alabama have expressed interest in bicentennial speakers. Due to this popular demand, we are pleased to announce Read Alabama 200, which will feature authors of recently published books that offer new information and insight into Alabama history and culture. Author talks represent a cross-section of subjects, including human and natural history, foodways and cuisine, children’s literature, and photography.

How does the program work?

Any library, archives, museum, civic group, church, or other organization in Alabama can request a speaker. A list of authors and their books and subjects can be found below. You can contact speakers directly to check availability and confirm dates, as well as discuss your audience and other pertinent details. There is no charge to host sites. Authors determine their own schedules, and Alabama 200 does not guarantee a speaker. Please note that speakers may have copies of their books to sell. 


After you have reserved a speaker for an event, we encourage you to reach out to us about marketing opportunities. We can make our logo available for you to include when you are promoting your book talk. We also encourage you to tag us in your social media posts about your book talks. Still have questions about the program? Contact us via blake.denton@bicentennial.alabama.gov.



The Read Alabama 200 Speakers Bureau

Dr. Richard Bailey

Books:

  • Neither Carpetbaggers nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders during the Reconstruction of Alabama, 1867-1878 (2010)
  • They Too Call Alabama Home: African American Profiles, 1800-1999 (1999)

Biography:

A native of Montgomery, Richard Bailey received his BS and MEd from Alabama State University in 1971 and 1972, an MA from Atlanta University in 1973, and the doctor of philosophy from Kansas State University in 1984. His research and speeches have focused on Alabama Reconstruction and Alabama African American history. His Neither Carpetbagger Nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders during the Reconstruction of Alabama, 1867-1878 marked only the second occasion in state history that a book by an African American was adopted by the state board of education as a supplemental text for classroom use. Another publication, They Too Call Alabama Home: African American Profiles, 1800–1999, takes a first-ever glance at state history. His thirty-year career with the civil service ended with his retirement from Maxwell Air Force Base in 2011.

Contact: scholarship111@bellsouth.net

Emily Blejwas

Book:

  • The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (available July 2019)

Biography:

Emily Blejwas is the Director of the Gulf States Health Policy Center in Bayou La Batre. She previously worked for the Economic & Community Development Institute at Auburn University and the Community Foundation of South Alabama. She serves on the board of the Alabama Folklife Association and the Bayou La Batre Area Chamber of Commerce, and holds degrees from Auburn University and Kenyon College. She is the author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (2019) and Once You Know This (2017). Emily lives in Mobile with her husband and four children.

Contact: eblejwas@gmail.com

Dr. Ed Bridges

Book:

  • Alabama: The Making of an American State (2016)

Biography:

Ed Bridges grew up in the Wiregrass region of southwest Georgia (Bainbridge).  He graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. Ed taught history on the secondary and post-secondary levels before joining the staff of the Georgia Department of Archives and History in 1976.  After six years at the Georgia Archives, where he last served as Assistant Director, he was appointed Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History in 1982.  He served as Director for more than thirty years until his retirement in 2012, after which he was appointed director emeritus. Ed remains an active volunteer in planning efforts for Alabama’s bicentennial.

Contact: edwincbridges@gmail.com

John Dersham

Book:

  • My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State (available April 2019)
  • Fort Payne (2016)

Biography:

John Dersham is an internationally recognized, award-winning photographer, whose art photography and commercial work has been featured in gallery and other exhibits nationwide. He is one of the most sought-after photography instructors and speakers on the subject of photography in the Southeast. He developed his love of photography in his 30 years spent working at Kodak. Today, Dersham is President of DeKalb Tourism. My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State is the first published book devoted to his work.

Contact: jdersham@mindspring.com

Dr. Bill Deutsch

Book:

  • Alabama Rivers, A Celebration And Challenge (2018)

Biography:

Dr. Bill Deutsch is a Research Fellow Emeritus in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences at Auburn University.  He is a founding director of Alabama Water Watch, a community-based volunteer water monitoring program that began in 1992 and has certified 8,000 citizens who have monitored water at more than 2,400 sites on 900 waterbodies statewide. Based on 30 years of traveling around Alabama, studying rivers, and interacting with river-loving folks, he recently published the book, Alabama Rivers, A Celebration And Challenge that blends the human and natural history of our aquatic heritage.

Contact: deutswg@auburn.edu

Charles Ghigna

Book:

  • Alabama: My Home Sweet Home! (2018)

Biography:

Charles Ghigna, a.k.a. Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than 100 books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Simon & Schuster, Charlesbridge, Time Inc., Scholastic, and other publishers. He has written more than 5,000 poems that have appeared in anthologies and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights for Children. For more information, visit his website at FatherGoose.com.

Contact: PaGoose@aol.com

Dr. Guy Hubbs

Books:

  • Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making (2019)
  • Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman (2015)
  • Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community (2003)

Biography:

Guy Hubbs is professor emeritus at Birmingham-Southern College and archivist for the north Alabama Methodists. He examines closely people and incidents in small nearby towns—in one case a single afternoon—to get at the unvoiced ideas and values on which everyday people act. Thus his Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community (University of Georgia Press, 2003) is a study of loyalty. Searching for Freedom after the Civil War: Klansman, Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and Freedman (University of Alabama Press, 2015) distinguishes four conflicting notions of freedom that explain many of Reconstruction’s failures. And in Tuscaloosa: 200 Years in the Making (University of Alabama Press, 2019), he distinguishes the six key decisions that fundamentally reoriented the Druid City. He lives with his wife, Pat, in the family home in Tuscaloosa.

Contact: ghubbs@bsc.edu

Irene Latham

Books:

  • Meet Miss Fancy (2019)
  • Don’t Feed the Boy (2014)
  • Leaving Gee’s Bend (2010)

Biography:

Irene Latham is the author of many books, including two novels for children, Leaving Gee's Bend and Don't Feed the Boy—both of which are set in Alabama. She is also the winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. Her most recent picture book, Meet Miss Fancy, about a boy and an elephant is set in 1913 Birmingham, Alabama, and was inspired by actual events. Irene lives on a lake in rural Blount County where she does her best to “live her poem” every single day by laughing, playing the cello, and birdwatching.

Contact: irene@irenelatham.com

Jim Lewis

Books:

  • Alabama Founders: Fourteen Political and Military Leaders who Shaped the State (2018)
  • Lost Capitals of Alabama (2014)
  • Clearing the Thickets: A History of Antebellum Alabama (2013)

Biography:

Jim Lewis obtained a B.A. in History from the University of Alabama in 1971. He earned a J.D. degree at the University of Alabama School of Law in 1974. After serving as a law clerk for Associate Justice Robert B. Harwood of the Alabama Supreme Court, he served in the United States Air Force as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate from 1975 to 1979. After completion of his military service, Lewis was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama in November 1979. During his tenure in that office he served as a trial attorney, chief of the office’s Civil Division and First Assistant United States Attorney. He retired from the Department of Justice in January 2006.

Contact: hjl749@aol.com

Dr. James Pate

Book:

  • The Annotated Pickett's History of Alabama (2018)

Biography:

James P. Pate is an independent scholar/writer and an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of West Alabama where he served as a department chair, Dean of General Studies, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. He also served as Dean of Arts and Letters at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northeastern State University, and Campus Dean at the University of Mississippi-Tupelo. Dr. Pate has received numerous honors and recognitions for his professional and civic activities and completed post-doctoral study in Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management and in the Price-Babson College Fellowship Program for Entrepreneurship Educators. He and his wife Betty live in Vestavia Hills, and they have three children and eight grandchildren.

Contact: jppate42@gmail.com

Alvin Rosenbaum

Book:

  • The Muscle Shoals: First Frontier of These United States (2018)

Biography:

Alvin Rosenbaum is a Muscle Shoals native and a regional planner. He has worked as an American and international consultant for strategic planning, public-private partnerships, and other collaborative approaches to interpreting regional landscapes for tourism, economic development, and poverty alleviation. The Muscle Shoals: First Frontier of These United States is the author’s ninth book.

Contact: alvinrosenbaum@gmail.com

John Sledge

Books:

  • These Rugged Days: Alabama in the Civil War (2017)
  • The Mobile River (2015)

Biography:

John S. Sledge is senior architectural historian with the Mobile Historic Development Commission, and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is the author of six books—three on Mobile’s historic architecture, a volume of literary criticism, The Mobile River (winner of the Clinton Jackson Coley Award from the Alabama Historical Association) and These Rugged Days: Alabama in the Civil War. He is presently at work on a maritime history of the Gulf of Mexico for the University of South Carolina Press. He and his wife Lynn live in Fairhope.  

Contact: sledge@cityofmobile.org

Jeanie Thompson

Books: 

  • The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller (2016)

Biography:            

An accomplished poet, teacher, and literary arts advocate, Jeanie Thompson spent ten years immersed in the mind and heart of Helen Keller to create her latest book, The Myth of Water, Poems from the Life of Helen Keller (UA Press, 2016).  Her presentation includes poems and anecdotes about the adult life of Keller (b. 1880 in Tuscumbia, AL), a world-renowned advocate for the deaf-blind.  Told in the style of historical persona, the poems reveal Keller’s inner life as well as her public persona. A slide show can accompany the presentation if requested.The Myth of Water was a finalist for the 2016 Foreword Indie Poetry Book Awards. Jeanie has published eight collections of poems and chapbooks and co-edited The Remembered Gate, a collection of Alabama writers’ memoirs, with Jay Lamar.A native of Decatur, AL, Jeanie directs the Alabama Writers’ Forum (Montgomery), a statewide literary arts service organization and teaches in Spalding University’s low-res MFA Writing Program (Louisville KY). Jeanie began writing poetry in high school which accounts for her dedicated support of young Alabama writers. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama where she was founding editor of the journal Black Warrior Review.

Contact: jeaniethompson@bellsouth.net

Dr. Karyn W. Tunks
 

Books:

  • Mardi Gras in Alabama! (2019)
  • Hooray for the Mighty A! (2015)
  • JUBILEE! (2012)

Biography:

Karyn W. Tunks is a Professor of Education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama where she teaches courses in Children’s Literature and Early Childhood Education. She has more than 25 years of experience teaching students from preschool through graduate school. She celebrates her adopted home state of Alabama by writing children’s picture books: JUBILEE! (2012), USS ALABAMA: Hooray for the Mighty A! (2015), and Mardi Gras in Alabama! (2019).

Contact: ktunks@southalabama.edu

Lila Quintero Weaver

Books:

  • Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (2012) or Cuarto oscuro: Recuerdos en blanco y negro (2018)

Biography:

Lila Quintero Weaver is a native of Argentina and a long-time resident of Alabama. She wrote and illustrated a graphic memoir, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White and later served as the co-translator of its Spanish edition, Cuarto oscuro: Recuerdos en blanco y negro. As a graphic novelist and documentarian of the immigrant experience in the American South, Lila has lectured at college campuses across the United States. In 2018, she published My Year in the Middle, her first children’s novel.

Contact: lilaweaver@gmail.com