Photo by Edward Underwood Photography
“Continue the fight for a better present and tomorrow.”
Civil rights attorney and author Michelle Coles’ family history goes back to the 1700s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She even had an ancestor who fought in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. In her role as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, social justice is integral to Michelle’s private and professional life. As the mother of four Black boys, it was so important for her to publish her debut novel Black Was the Ink.
Black Was the Ink (Tu Books)
Black Was the Ink was inspired by the Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. While Michelle was on maternity leave, she spent time contemplating how to prepare her infant son for a world that will treat him differently because of the color of his skin. The historical significance of the Mother Emanuel AME Church compelled her to write Black Was the Ink. The church was founded by Denmark Vesey, the leader of one of the largest attempted slave revolts. Richard H. Cain, a member of the House of Representatives during the Reconstruction Era, was the pastor of the church. The church continued to have a strong presence in the civil rights movement and into the present day.
Photo by Tony Garr Photography
Black Was the Ink is about an African American teenage boy named Malcolm who time travels to the Reconstruction Era of America with the help of his “ghostly ancestor.” This journey helps him discover who he is in the present. “Malcolm is dealing with so many struggles common to African American teens today,” Michelle says. “From scary encounters with police, dealing with neighborhood violence, to visiting relatives who are incarcerated, and not knowing much about his family’s history.” After learning the story of his ancestors and the greater struggle of Black people fighting for their freedom, Malcolm feels empowered to continue their fight for a better present and future.
Michelle Coles plans to continue writing stories that deal with our untold history. “I hope readers will leave feeling empowered to make America and the world a better place with justice for all,” she says.
To learn more about Michelle Coles, visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.