Peggy Brooks-Bertram is an author, educator, social historian, and community activist. She is president and co-founder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc. She is also the coeditor of Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady (Excelsior Editions/SUNY Press, 2009).
“When a woman has a conviction that she is doing the work God gave her to do, there is a zeal and a courage in her soul that all the forces of the world cannot destroy.” – Letter to VP Kamala Harris from Buffalo area poet Shirley J. Sarmiento.
Peaceful, intelligent Americans have learned to direct their greatest ideas and concerns for social and economic change to our government, from the local city council to those who occupy the most powerful offices in the land.
When it comes to letters and emails, Vice President Kamala Harris is a particularly fascinating recipient for innumerable reasons, from being an inspiration our children may follow to her seemingly blind passion for doing what is right, for leading by example.
American men and women are so different that when a man is asked what he does, the answer is one of employment—steelworker, lawyer, accountant.
When a woman is asked, the answer—for one person—goes like this: grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, niece, wife, nurse, strategist, singer, philanthropist, budding novelist, voter, activist, etc. Today's multi-faceted woman is also a strong advocate for women’s rights, racial justice, and across-the-board reforms.
Baltimore native Peggy Brooks-Bertram is the editor of Dear Kamala: Women Write to the New Vice President (Red Lightning Books/Indiana University Press, 2021). This is a book of great global calling and impact jammed with ideas and concerns, praise and criticism from women from across the globe, with nearly every country, religion, culture, and opinion represented, a seemingly impossible research task made possible by social media.
As the first woman of color (and only woman ever) elected as the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris broke through many barriers and made history, energizing a host of women who have a lot to say. The women see a model of themselves filling the 2nd-most-powerful office in the Free World.
Dear Kamala showcases a selection of these heartfelt and moving letters. Girl Scouts confide their fears for a future ravaged by climate change; a business owner in Harlem offers unflinching advice about the need for real investment in inner cities; civil rights activists share their stories, struggles, and successes over the decades.
Filled with moving personal stories and heartbreaking tales of racial injustices, Dear Kamala represents an offer of support and a call to action for all those who are at Vice President Harris's side today.
But it is far from a book of lavish, mundane praise—great concerns are raised in some of these letters that begs a response from the VP herself.
This compilation of letters has been called an “ardent testimony to the significance of Harris’ triumph” by Kirkus Reviews, and a “must-read for anyone with an interest in seeing the seemingly overwhelming problems of the lethal pandemic, deepening economic inequality, systemic racial injustice, continuing white supremacy threats to our American democracy ...” by Midwest Book Review.