It’s 1893, and Lorraine Williams can’t wait to attend the Chicago World’s Fair and see her idol, the Black opera singer Sissieretta Jones. But when activist and writer Ida B. Wells urges Black Americans to boycott the fair, Lorraine’s father forbids Lorraine from going. After all, there is no exhibition about the progress that the Black community has made since Emancipation, and the fair has lacked Black representation since it was first being planned. But Lorraine will do anything to see Miss Jones and ensure other Black people can hear Miss Jones sing. What does progress look like if not Sissieretta Jones, who embodies everything Lorraine wants to be?
It’s the storytellers that preserve a nation’s history. But what happens when some stories are silenced? The I Am America series features fictional stories based on important historical events about people whose voices have been excluded, lost, or forgotten over time.
About the Author
Anne E. Johnson grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and often visited Chicago with her family. She went to Queens College for a master’s degree in musicology, a commute that took her past the remnants of the 1939 world’s fair nearly every day. One of her favorite albums was a set of spirituals sung by the Black opera singer Marian Anderson. Inspired by recent books and recordings featuring the Black composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, Anne has been keen to learn more about Black women in the classical music scene at the turn of the twentieth century. Writing this book proved the perfect excuse to do that, and discovering the story of Sissieretta Jones was an excellent reward for her research.