Author A.E. Rooks to discuss “The Black Joke” Jan. 26

January 19, 2022

Author A.E. Rooks will join a live, online discussion about her new book, “The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship’s Battle Against the Slave Trade,” at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26, hosted by the Lewes Public Library, the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice and Browseabout Books.

“The Black Joke” delivers a groundbreaking history of the most famous member of the British Royal Navy’s anti-slavery squadron and the long fight to end the transatlantic slave trade. 

Sailing after the spectacular fall of Napoleon in France, but before the rise of Queen Victoria’s England, Black Joke was first a slaving vessel itself; only a lucky capture in 1827 allowed it to be repurposed by the Royal Navy to catch other slavers.

Over the next five years, the ship’s diverse crew and dedicated commanders captured more ships and liberated more enslaved people than any other in the squadron. Harrowing and heartbreaking, “The Black Joke” is a crucial and deeply compelling work of history, both as a reckoning with slavery and as a lesson about the power of political will, or the lack thereof.

Rooks will be joined in conversation by J. Marlena Edwards, assistant professor of history, African American studies, and African studies at Penn State. 

A.E. Rooks is a two-time “Jeopardy!” champion with degrees in theater, law, and library and information science, as well as forthcoming degrees in education and human sexuality. Her intellectual passions are united by what the past can teach people about the present, how history shapes the future, and above all, really interesting stories.

To register, go to

Participants are encouraged to support the author by purchasing a copy of the book from local independent bookstore Browseabout Books. Each copy will be signed. Orders may be placed online at, by calling the store at 302-226-2665, or in person at 133 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach.

The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice is a nonpartisan organization that educates, informs, and advocates for racial justice, equality and fair opportunity. To learn more, go to


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