A Georgetown History Lesson with Breena Clarke
Author Breena Clarke captivated the audience at First Georgetown Baptist Church.
Wednesday night, author Breena Clarke returned home to a city and a church that are both still near and dear to her heart and her novels.
The Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG) and the First Georgetown Baptist Church arranged a program featuring the highly acclaimed author, known for her first novel, River, Cross My Heart, featured on Oprah’s book club.
“It was a combined effort. We knew we wanted to do an event for Black History Month. We also knew we wanted to have an event at another historically black church,” said Jennifer Altemus, president of the board of directors of CAG.
There was a large turnout to hear Clarke speak.
Prior to the official program, Clarke graciously met downstairs and spoke with members of the congregation and of CAG reminiscing upon familiar times that she had had with her grandmother, who was a devout member of First Georgetown Baptist Church. Many members of the congregation also had memories of their own of her grandmother to share.
Clarke brought copies of her second novel, Stand the Storm, for those interested in purchasing; she personally signed each copy. The author also made time to sign novels of those that had purchased Stand the Storm or River, Cross My Heart prior to that night.
The line to purchase Stand the Storm and have a copy signed stretched around the room. Clarke actually sold out of novels.
After all the books were signed and guests had the chance to introduce themselves to Clarke, the crowd moved upstairs for the reading.
Clarke chose to read to the audience from Stand the Storm. Beginning in the middle of the novel, Clarke set the stage describing the era of compensation after the Emancipation Proclamation in Georgetown and the family, whose story she had constructed.
The audience was silent, captivated by the author's commanding presence and poetic words. When she finished, the audience exploded with applause genuinely enjoying the bit of history that Clarke shared with them.
Members of the crowd ask questions of Clarke about her research and how she came to write the nove; she dutifully answered each and every query.
Clarke graced the neighborhood with a history lesson, shedding light on the plight of African Americans in Georgetown prior to and just after the Civil War.