This will be just a short post, but I had to acknowledge this bit of news: I received the first official copy of my book today! Power to the Poor won’t be available to the public for another two months – a gap that remains one of the many mysteries of the book publishing world that I don’t quite understand. But the book is real, and I have a copy. This book had been ten years in the making, born out of a paper written for Professor Charles Payne’s African American Activism seminar in the spring of 2003. Who knew that that very first foray into mainstream and underground media coverage of the Poor People’s Campaign would lead me on such a fruitful journey?
A far more extensive set of acknowledgments shows up after the book’s bibliography. But as I thumb through this first copy, I want to reiterate the contributions of a few folks. In addition to Charles and his thoughtful mentorship, Maria Varela comes to mind. One of two prominent Mexican American activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Maria snapped the photograph that became the book’s cover. It’s appropriate in many ways. I met Maria early on in my research, and she made a huge impression on me as I began to figure out the relationship between the civil rights struggle and the Chicano movement. She eventually left SNCC and joined Reies Tijerina’s Alianza, before pursuing a series of projects in northern New Mexico and becoming a scholar and teacher herself. It would be the nameless marchers she insisted on capturing with her camera that greet readers of my book forty-five years later.
I also want to acknowledge the fine work that UNC Press did in designing, editing, and producing the book. Mark Simpson-Vos, who called me this morning with the news, has been everything one would want in an editor. The same goes with Paul Betz, Zach Read, and Rebecca Evans. Paul saved me from many an embarrassing error, and Zach took care of many of the little things that make for a successful book. As a one-time designer, in my former newspaper life, I remain impressed with Rebecca’s design. As a friend of mine said today after seeing the cover design, this book should really jump off the shelf. I hope it does!