History Book Festival online talk with Bettye Kearse set Sept. 17

September 9, 2020

Bettye Kearse will join a live online discussion at 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 17, of her first book, “The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family,” presented by the History Book Festival.

For thousands of years, West African griots (men) and griottes (women) have recited the stories of their people. Without this tradition, Kearse would not have known that she is a descendant of President James Madison and his slave and half-sister Coreen. 

Her family’s credo – “Always remember you’re a Madison: You come from African slaves and a president” – was intended to be a source of pride, but for her, it echoed with abuses of slavery, including rape and incest. Embarking on a journey of discovery, Kearse tried to confirm the information her ancestors had passed down, but she encountered obstacles at every turn. 

Adenike Marie Davidson will interview Kearse. Davidson is a professor of literature and gender studies at Delaware State University and author of “The Black Nation Novel: Imagining Homeplaces in Early African-American Literature.”

This Zoom event is free but registration is required. To register, go to and click on 2020 Events.

The 2020 Virtual History Book Festival is presented in cooperation with the Lewes Public Library and sponsored by Delaware Humanities and the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group.

Biblion in Lewes and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach carry copies of “The Other Madisons” with signed archival bookplates. The festival encourages readers to support local independent bookstores. To borrow a copy from Lewes Public Library, call 302-645-2733 or email to arrange for curbside pickup.

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