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‘Driving While Black’ steers conversation for new Boston Public Library series

"Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights" by Gretchen Sorin. The book examines how the automobile opened the road to civil rights for blacks in the United States.Associated Press

Boston Public Library kicked off a new series of online author talks this month, each tackling a different aspect of race and US history. Next up for the series: Gretchen Sorin, author of “Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights.” The SUNY Oneonta museum studies professor (who also directs the school’s museum studies graduate program) will discuss her book at 6 p.m. Tuesday with Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Sorin’s research on cars and their effect on Black American life served as the basis for a forthcoming PBS documentary by Ric Burns, slated for broadcast later this year.

The BPL series continues Aug. 25 with E. Dolores Johnson, author of “Say I’m Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love.” Johnson was born in 1948 to a Black father and white mother who were hiding from both the authorities and her family. The Howard- and Harvard-educated memoirist was born a full 19 years before the US Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia ruling, striking down laws that banned interracial marriage.


Boston Public Library will announce more author talks for the series soon. All online talks are free but registration is required. Save your spot by visiting