Photo Album

Speaking Engagements

“Stories, Then and Now” in Meridian, MS

Getting ready to begin “Stories, Then and Now” at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian


During the event

Co-host Susan Follett welcomes attendees

Ms. Houston speaks on behalf of First Union Pastor Melvin J. Hendricks

Sweet Spirits Inspirational Choir performs a freedom song

Meridian CAO Richie McAlister speaks on behalf of Mayor Percy Bland

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Spoken word artist Edward Lynch performs “Continuing the Fight”

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Panelists: Eric Porter, Sadie Clark Martin, Councilman Weston Lindemann, Susan Follett

1964 Meridian Freedom School student Richard Porter

The “Meridian 5”


After the event

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Rosemount High School

Engaging with students in the RHS Information Media Center

Presenting signed copy to raffle winner Gabby Fisher

St James, MN

With Jeanne Miest, owner of The Country Collage, signing books at “Stories from Civil Rights History, Then and Now,” January 18, 2016
at the St. James, MN High School Little Theatre.


“Stories, Then and Now” in Rosemount, MN

With panelists Ronnie Hartman (standing in for Gail Falk) and Jason Sole at “The FOG MACHINE: Stories from Civil Rights History, Then and Now,” February 17, 2015 at the Rosemount Community Center.

The Soulful Sounds Gospel Choir, under the direction of John Gordon, opening the program with freedom songs.

Signing The FOG MACHINE for the 8th-grade English Department at Scott Highlands Middle School’s collection of novels on prejudice and bias.

Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste addressing the crowd, with Rosemount Area Arts Council Program Chair John Loch in the background.

District 4 Dakota County Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler addressing the crowd.

With the event planning committee: Christy Wayne, Frances Veit, Russ Cogar, and John Loch.

In the tradition of the Civil Rights Movement, joining hands to sing “We Shall Overcome.”

“Remembering Freedom Summer” at Mississippi State University

Reading the Prologue from The FOG MACHINE during my October 21 Keynote Address at the “Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future” Conference at Mississippi State University—“Beyond Remembering: Knowing and Grappling with Our History and What Divides Us.” (photo by Beth Wynn / Mississippi State University)


Dr. Donna Reese, Department Head, Computer Science and Engineering, welcoming everyone to the closing session of the Freedom Summer Conference. (photo by Beth Wynn / Mississippi State University)


Signing a book for Dr. Linda Morse, Professor and Coordinator, Programs in Educational Psychology at MSU

With lifelong friend Debbie after my keynote. Wonderful to be supported by her and other family and friends: my former CSE professor and her husband, Helen and Jim; sister-in-law and niece, Melissa and Anna Catherine with their mom/grandmother Mary Martha.

Major kudos to Dr. Stephen Middleton, Department Head, African American Studies at MSU, and his team for orchestrating an informative, thought-provoking, and engaging conference!


With fellow panelists for “Freedom Schools and the Lessons of Social Change,” sharing our passion for the freedom schools: Dr. Jon Hale (College of Charleston, “The Freedom School Experience and Youth Activism During the Civil Rights Movement”); Dr. William Sturkey (University of North Carolina, “The Unique Spatial Considerations of Freedom School Newspapers During the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer”).


With Julian Hipkins, Curriculum Specialist and Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Project Director at Teaching for Change—one of the great social justice education resources I referenced in my panel remarks “The Role of Historical Fiction in Civil Rights Education and Conversations on Race.”

Book Launch/Freedom Summer 50th Commemorations

Sharing an excerpt at June 27 book talk in Meridian Community College's Homer Casteel Gallery.

Listening as Bernice Sims (Detour Before Midnight) shares her writing journey at our joint book talk. Being interviewed by Jeff from WTOK, Meridian, MS.

With daughter Dani, Meridian High classmate Jackie, and relatives of Meridian's own Mable Otis in the 1964 Meridian Freedom School Reunion pavilion at Highland Park during the annual Meridianites picnic. Kudos and thanks to Dani, my videographer for the book launch trip! With relatives of Mrs. Polly Heidelberg, Meridian civil rights activist.

So glad to finally meet Heather Booth in person! Heather, a MS Freedom Summer volunteer and lifelong activist, has been a supporter of The FOG MACHINE since the early research days.

Bob Moses moderating a panel on educational access for the bottom quartile with Marian Wright Edelman of CDF and Walt McDonald of ETS at the Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference in Jackson.

Pleased to present The FOG MACHINE to Mr. Dave Dennis, co-director of COFO in MS during the civil rights era, who delivered an unforgettable eulogy at James Chaney’s funeral.

With their high school photos in the background, the “Meridian 5” (or their representatives) stand with Mayor Percy Bland for recognition. Wonderful to see my friend Faye Inge again!

Looking forward to working together on David's new project. Thanks to these fans for coming to check out The FOG MACHINE! With DanYale, a fan from Los Angeles. With Julie Cabot, whose brother Luke was a med school student and taught at the 1964 Meridian Freedom School.

With Julia Chaney-Moss and her niece Jamie Chaney Lewis.

With 1964 Meridian Freedom School student and career educator, Faye Inge, an early and steadfast supporter.

Anna Stephenson, Director of the Meridian Freedom Project, accepts a copy of The FOG MACHINE for the school library. 8th-grader Sydney was the first to check it out, promising to finish it in one night!


Morning meeting at the Meridian Freedom Project concludes with freedom songs. From here, I was off to visit with each rhetoric class, where students and teachers brainstormed in response to the targeted prompt: "I have a dream that one day..." We then compared their dreams to those of 1964 Meridian Freedom School students and fictional students in The FOG MACHINE.

Mr. Tyler Smith’s 6th-grade rhetoric students shared dreams of becoming mayor and a doctor, especially to help the homeless.

Many dreams in Ms. Jermesha Haywood’s 8th-grade rhetoric class were the same as dreams expressed by students 50 years ago. "New" dreams included: equal pay and job opportunities for women, a cleaner earth, and no more bullying.

Mr. Sam McAlilly's 7th-grade rhetoric students are eager to get started with the brainstorming activity.

I was honored to be asked to join the group photo following the June 21 Martyr Commemoration and Bell Toll Ceremony at Meridian's Temple Theatre. Peace lilies graced the stage, both a fitting tribute and call to action.

Rev. Charles Johnson, pastor of Fitkins Memorial since 1961 and patriarch of the movement, said: "The power of the vote is what makes the dream come true" and rallied the crowd with the theme "I've Come Too Far to Turn Around Now." Gail Falk, 1964-65 Meridian Freedom School teacher, shared a moving and richly detailed letter she wrote to her parents shortly after the discovery of the bodies of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Mayor Percy Bland, Meridian's first African American mayor, spoke of media control of the message and African American/civil rights history not being taught in our schools, both during the time of Freedom Summer and today.

Mayor James Young, first African American mayor of Philadelphia, MS, urged us to "celebrate and cry," for the freedoms we've gained and lost since the summer of 1964.

The program opened with a wonderful performance of Freedom songs such as "Oh Freedom" and "Walk in the Water."

Inside Meridian's historic Temple Theatre as people assembled for the June 21 Martyr Commemoration and Bell Toll Ceremony. One of the last to take the podium was James Chaney's daughter Angela Lewis who spoke to the storyteller in all of us: "The movement stopped when we stopped telling our story."

Photos from Readers

Love seeing the diverse locales where The FOG MACHINE is being read!

At the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair.

In Myrtle Beach, SC, on the way to Asheville, NC and Savannah, GA, with Shea.

In the Sipsey Wilderness Area of the Bankhead National Forest in northwest Alabama with Ethan.

In this peaceful New Jersey setting with Eileen, who says: “A great story that can also be used for Civil Rights education. Let's not repeat history, let's learn from the past. Read it. Share it. ‘Let the national conversation begin.’"

Aboard the Loon with Henry, heading back into San Diego Bay at Point Loma after cruising Pacific waters off the shore of Baja.

In the glorious Maui sun, with Kevin.

Nestled among banjo, guitar, dobro, and mandolin cases owned by Shea’s friend Jessica in Asheville, NC.

Staying in Savannah, GA with Shea’s friend Susan.

At the 2016 Beijing Book Fair.

Book Groups


Gathered with St. Philip’s Lutheran Church Book Group in Blaine after a “Then and Now” conversation that revealed unintended insights and interpretations of my writing—a treat for an author!

Kicking off a new post-publication season of get-togethers with book groups.  October meeting with Vicky, Ginny, Sheila, and Peggy (via Skype) of the Possibilities! Book Club of Rosemount, MN.

Farmington Book Group early reviewers get a sneak peek at an Advance Review Copy for an academic pilot with Mississippi’s McComb High and Redmond, Washington’s The Overlake School.

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