Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed. (Courtesy photo)

Annette Gordon-Reed, author of ‘On Juneteenth,’ to deliver VCU Libraries Black History Month Lecture

The Pulitzer Prize winner, one of the most authoritative voices on race and history in America, will speak Feb. 10 at James Branch Cabell Library.

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Annette Gordon-Reed, the first African American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for History and one of the most authoritative voices on race and history in America, will deliver VCU Libraries’ 21st annual Black History Month Lecture.

Gordon-Reed, a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School, is the author of six books, including “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 and the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2008; and her most recent work, “On Juneteenth,” published in 2021.

At VCU, Gordon-Reed will deliver a talk based on “On Juneteenth,” which weaves together American history, dramatic family chronicle and memoir to reveal the story of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in 2021.

“‘On Juneteenth’ provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond,” according to the publisher, Liveright. “All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed — herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s — forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.”

Gordon-Reed’s lecture will be free and open to the public, though registration is required. To register, visit

The event will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Cabell Lecture Hall of James Branch Cabell Library, 901 Park Ave. It also will be livestreamed to registered attendees.

“Annette Gordon-Reed’s work speaks to our times, illuminating history that does not shy away from the harrowing and tragic, but is based upon scrupulous scholarship and examination of primary source documentation.  She exemplifies scholarly research that makes a librarian’s heart sing,” said Irene Herold, Ph.D., dean of libraries and university librarian.

Following the lecture, Gordon-Reed will answer questions from the audience and sign copies of the book, which will be available for sale on-site.

Gordon-Reed’s other books include “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy” —an examination of scholarly writing on the relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, which exposes the possibility that scholars were misguided by their own biases and may even have contorted evidence to preserve their preexisting opinions of Jefferson. Her book “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination” presents a character study of Jefferson that challenges the scholarly status quo on his portrayal throughout history. And her upcoming book, “A Jefferson Reader on Race,” is set to be published in 2022.

Gordon-Reed’s honors include the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama; a Guggenheim fellowship; and a MacArthur fellowship. She also was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2019, she was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Her lecture will the 21st Black History Month Lecture organized by VCU Libraries. Last year’s event featured Marcia Chatelain, Ph.D., author of “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,” which tells the story of how fast food became one of the greatest generators of Black wealth in America and that went on to receive the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History.