Friday, February 6th, 2009...3:16 pm
BET to highlight Lexington author
Lexington’s Rosetta Lucas Quisenberry published a series of books a few years ago highlighting some of the memorabilia she has collected over the years that depict the black man, woman, children and family through American history.
Many of the postcards, ads and other artifacts she began collecting in the 1970s were very negative images most black people would have bypassed.
She photographed the items and self-published a four-book series — The Saga of the Black Man; The Saga of the Black Woman; The Saga of the Black Child; and The Saga of the Black Family — that she has sold out of her home, over the Internet and at book signings. She even managed to sell some when pieces of her collection were on display in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., last year.
I knew then that nothing could stop her quest to get her books into the hands of as many people nationwide as she can.
During the final week in January, she moved much further along in that quest.
Quisenberry will be appearing in one of BET’s Black History Briefs during February. That’s national TV, mind you.
According to Sian-Pierre Regis, assistant to the senior vice president of BET News, Quisenberry will be featured in one of several one-minute vignettes that will be shown weekdays, usually between 6:20 and 7:50 p.m. They could also be shown throughout the day during February.
Regis got a call from Quisenberry a few months ago touting the historic value of her series. She told him how the images she has captured in her books have “shaped how mainstream America sees the black community,” he said.
“Somebody who has that tenacity gets what they want done.”
But he wasn’t all that impressed in the beginning.
“At first I dismissed it,” Regis said. “Then she sent the books, and they are really powerful books about how racist America used to be. They were so captivating.”
He told Quisenberry he’d love to chat with her. But there was a catch. She would have to get to New York on her own.
That’s when a lot of people would have said, “thanks, but no thanks.”
Not Quisenberry. “I have a living room full of books,” she said, referring to the unsold copies.
She and her husband, William T. Quisenberry Jr., boarded a Greyhound bus Jan. 26 and headed for New York. Some 20 hours later, they were in the Big Apple. Traveling by bus was much cheaper than flying, she said.
On Jan. 28, the couple went to the BET studios, where Regis interviewed Quisenberry.
“He asked something about Barack Obama and a litany of 10 or 12 questions,” she said. Regis said he asked what had inspired her to write the books and whether we need books depicting those images now that we have a black man, black woman and black children in the White House.
Yes, we do, she told him. Otherwise we might forget.
The interview lasted about 25 minutes, and then Quisenberry was videotaped looking at her books and pointing to images.
Quisenberry and her husband didn’t want to sightsee or visit tourist attractions. They’d been to New York before. After the interview, they just wanted to go home, she said.
“It was raining,” Quisenberry said. “We got good and wet trying to get across 57th Street.”
They arrived back in Lexington on Jan. 29. Now, she’s just waiting for her moment of fame to translate into less clutter in her living room.
“What’s really beautiful is that she made her way here herself,” Regis said. “She came all the way on a Greyhound bus, with her four books, her husband and a belief.
“You have to admire that kind of passion.”
Quisenberry’s books are available at www.asagaoftheblackman.com, or call her at (859) 299-7258.