The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana, in partnership with The Historic New Orleans Collection, will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation, “A Monumental Task: How Brian K. Mitchell Unearthed the Story of His Famous Ancestor Oscar Dunn, America’s First Black Lieutenant Governor.” The pre-recorded presentation will be available on YouTube and Facebook on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, beginning at 12:00 p.m.
Brian K. Mitchell, the author of Monumental: Oscar Dunn’s Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana, and The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Nick Weldon, the book’s editor, discuss the origins of the project and Mitchell’s personal connection to Dunn. Mitchell and Weldon will discuss the book further at THNOC’s 2021 symposium, “Recovered Voices: Black Activism in New Orleans from Reconstruction to the Present Day” March 5–7.
Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana reveals in graphic-novel format the incredible life story of Louisiana’s—and America’s—first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor. The book is the culmination of decades of research by one of Dunn’s own descendants, the author himself, who, with illustrator Barrington S. Edwards and editing by Weldon, brings to light an essential piece of American history buried for far too long.
“This partnership between the State Library and THNOC gives Louisianans and others the opportunity to learn of my predecessor’s rise from being born enslaved and emancipated at a young age to becoming Louisiana’s first Black lieutenant governor," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.
“Not only is Dunn’s journey remarkable, but so is Mitchell’s perseverance,” notes State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “After learning about his famous relative from his great-grandmother as a child, he was embarrassed in class when his second-grade teacher refuted his claim that Dunn served as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor. Yet Mitchell went on to pursue a career in history and made Dunn the subject of his University of New Orleans dissertation, which formed the foundation of the outstanding Monumental.”