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The Emancipation of Evan Walls: A Conversation with Author and VCU Alumnus Jeffrey Blount


Acclaimed author and VCU alumnus Jeffrey Blount discusses his book The Emancipation of Evan Walls, then participates in a Q&A session moderated by Jeanne Meserve. A book sale, signing and reception follow the talk.

The event is free and open to all, but please register. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks. For special accommodations, or to register offline, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at (804) 828-0593.

About the book

Evan Walls has been married to his wife Izzy for 13 years, yet she knows nothing about the earlier half of his life. However, the birth of their first child changes everything. Evan, fearful of a reincarnation of his childhood in the life of his new daughter, finally finds the courage to tell his wife.

It is June 1968. The Civil Rights movement is winding down after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Evan is 10 years old and, in the jargon of the times, young, gifted and black. In the presence of his parents and a summer porch gathering of their friends, he makes a startling declaration. From that moment on, the central question of his life is born: Is he black enough?

Evan has a dream that will turn the sleepy town of Canaan upside down, forcing him to walk the slippery and angry slope between blacks and whites. In time, his dream disintegrates a family, a marriage, countless friendships and a dramatic first love. Only his great-grandmother, Mama Jennie, and mentor, Bojack, help him fight to keep his dream alive. And only Izzy can help him come to grips with what he learns from telling his traumatic life story.

About the speakers

Jeffrey Blount is an Emmy Award–winning television director whose 34-year career at NBC News included a decade of directing such shows as Meet the Press, The Today Show and The Chris Matthews Show. He is a commentator on issues of race and social justice and also a novelist whose latest book, The Emancipation of Evan Walls, is forthcoming from Koehler Books.

Jeanne Meserve is an award-winning security analyst, journalist and media coach. She worked as a correspondant for CNN and ABC for which she won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Her work specializes in intelligence and security. She has covered the death of Princess Diana, Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks. She is married to Jeffrey Blount.

Image: The Emancipation of Evan Walls cover, courtesy of Koehler Books/Jeffrey Blount photo, courtesy of Jeffrey Bloun