May 17, 2017

Book On African American Princeton Launched at Princeton Library May 18

The Princeton Public Library will host a book launch for Kathryn Watterson’s I Hear My People Singing: Voices of African American Princeton (Princeton Univ. Press $29.95) on Thursday, May 18, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library. The event is part of the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Stories Project in collaboration with the Arts Council of Princeton and the Historical Society of Princeton.

The book includes first-person accounts of more than 50 black residents and details aspects of their lives throughout the 20th century. Daughters of three of the deceased residents will attend to read their fathers’ stories.

Residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, interviewed by Kathryn “Kitsi” Watterson and her Princeton University students, collaborated in the effort to preserve the community’s history. These stories — beginning with a story by a resident born in 1875 and found in the archives of the Historical Society of Princeton — show that the roots of Princeton’s African American community are as deeply intertwined with the town and university as they are with the history of the United States, the legacies of slavery, and the nation’s current conversations on race.

According to Emily Mann, artistic director, McCarter Theatre, “Kathryn Watterson has devoted her entire life as a writer to issues of justice. From the American prison system to women’s rights and the stories of people of color, few writers in this country have captured the humanity and heroism of the disenfranchised like Watterson. I Hear My People Singing stands alone in its telling of stories untold, stories essential to understanding the unwritten history of America. At this moment in time, this beautiful book is essential reading.”

Kathryn Watterson’s award-winning books include Women in Prison and Not by the Sword. She has written for magazines, literary journals, and newspapers, including the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. She used to teach at Princeton and now teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.