One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Teaching Resources, United States on 2013-11-21 05:03Z by Steven

One Big Mixed Race Classroom: New Models for Digital, Transnational, and Cross-Disciplinary Pedagogy

Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association
Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent
2013-11-21 through 2013-11-24

Washington Hilton
1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

Washington Hilton, Columbia Hall 9 (T)
Friday, 2013-11-22, 12:00-13:45 EST (Local Time)

CHAIR: Asha Nadkarni, Assistant Professor of English
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Zelideth María Rivas, Assistant Professor of Japanese
Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia

Michele Elam, Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of English and Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Stanford University

Lawrence-Minh B. Davis
University of Maryland, College Park

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Steven F. Riley, Independent Scholar

In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, the Mixed Race Initiative, a new digital pedagogy project, will stage a global conversation about mixed race, virtually connecting over 70 classrooms in 9 countries, exploring how notions of race vary—and remain constant—across regions and borders. Transnational and cross-disciplinary in character, the project will exist at once inside and outside of American studies, with numerous participating Americanists and American studies classrooms in dialogue with an even greater number of scholars and students in other fields.

This engages the hows and whys of the initiative, thinking through its guiding theoretical and ethical concerns, its challenges and opportunities. Roundtable participants, all of whom helped develop the project curriculum and/or took part in the teaching program, will discuss their particular points of entry, the cross-disciplinary and transnational work in which they engaged, and how that work has grown or could grow the humanities, American studies, and mixed race studies. How, we might consider, can mixed race pedagogy be a critical means of rethinking American studies—and vice versa?  How can a global initiative, extending beyond U.S. borders and the English language, explore mixed race as a necessarily inter- and transnational subject? What does it mean to teach—and craft curriculum—communally?

For more information, click here.

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The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-10-18 05:06Z by Steven

The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses

The Asian American Literary Review
Special Issue on Mixed Race, Volume 4, Issue 2 (Fall 2013)
Mixed Race is an Inbox: pages 127-136

Steven F. Riley, Creator Scholarly perspectives on the mixed race experience

Glenn C. Robinson, Creator Mixed Culture | Mixed Heritage | Mixed Identity

Steven F. Riley, creator of, and Glenn C. Robinson, creator of first met (virtually) in the chat-room of the March 16, 2011 episode of Mixed Chicks Chat and have corresponded with each other ever since. They have met each other in person at the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival in Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012.

Riley has received many comments describing how his has become an integral part of college courses. Robinson’s sites are an open forum for dialog and social sharing, and have a steady growth of followers. Here, they continue their conversations about mixed race and technology.

Purchase the issue here.

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Special Issue on Mixed Race [The Asian American Literary Review]

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-10-18 05:05Z by Steven

Special Issue on Mixed Race [The Asian American Literary Review]

The Asian American Literary Review

AALR’s special issue on mixed race, coming in Fall 2013, is not simply a reexamination of race or a survey of mixed voices, important as both are. We envision our role as that of provocateur–inspiring new conversations and cross-pollinations, pushing into new corners.

All contributions to the issue are collaborative, “mixed” in nature, bringing together folks across racial and ethnic boundaries, across disciplines, genres, regions, and generations. We solicited work from artists and writers, historians and activists, race scholars and filmmakers, teachers and students, among others. The idea is a network of original projects that not only map out multiracialism past and present but also break new ground.

[My coauthored essay with Glenn C. Robinson, titled “The Impact of Internet Publishing and Online Communications on Mixed-Race Discourses” is part of the issue.]

For more information and the Table of Contents, click here.

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Steve Riley Co-hosts a Recap of Some Important Discussions

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-08-26 02:52Z by Steven

Steve Riley Co-hosts a Recap of Some Important Discussions

Mixed Race Radio
Blog Talk Radio
2013-08-21, 16:00Z (12:00 EDT)

Tiffany Rae Reid, Host

Steven F. Riley, Creator

On today’s of episode of Mixed Race Radio, join me and our special guest co-host, Steven Riley ( as we discuss some of our favorite Mixed Race Radio guests and conversations.

Steve is one of my “go-to” sources for show recommendations and referrals. Today, we get to hear what he has been up to and the conferences, lectures, and conversations he is excited to be a part of in the coming months.

Who knows, Steve and I may even debut a Top 10 List of favorite books, authors, programs and artists who have left an impact on our work and perspective.

Join us today and feel free to send in your suggestions and referrals for show guests, topics and themes.

Due to a guest cancellation, Tiffany invited me for wide ranging conversation about race and mixed-race. We discussed topics ranging from General Mills’ Cheerios ad, my favorite authors, the forthcoming inaugural issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni’s one-woman play, One Drop of Love: A Daughter’s Search for her Father’s Racial Approval.

Go to the episode here. Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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Mixed Race Studies with Steven Riley [on Research at the National Archives & Beyond]

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-07-21 20:48Z by Steven

Mixed Race Studies with Steven Riley [on Research at the National Archives & Beyond]

Research at the National Archives & Beyond
Blog Talk Radio
Thursday, 2013-07-25, 21:00 EDT, (18:00 PDT), (2013-07-26, 01:00Z, 02:00 BST)

Natonne Kemp, Host

Steven Riley is the creator of which is a non-commercial website that provides a gateway to contemporary interdisciplinary English language scholarship about the relevant issues surrounding the topic of multiracialism. At present, the site contains +6,000 posts which consists of links to +3,300 articles; +1,000 books; nearly 600 dissertation, papers and reports; nearly 300 multimedia items; +300 excerpts and quotes, +100 course offerings; etc.

Currently, receives over 1,800 visitors/day, over 37,000 unique visitors/month, and nearly ½ million page views/month. The site has been called the “most comprehensive and objective clearinghouse for scholarly publications related to critical mixed-race theory” by a leading scholar in the field.

Steve has been an Information Technology professional for 25 years in the D.C. area and is currently Director of Database Development and Design at a trade association in Washington D.C. His areas of expertise are application programming, database and website development.

When he is not developing software applications, he spends his time at home in Silver Spring, Maryland with his artist wife Julia, working on his photography and reading books on history and sociology.

For more information, click here.

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The Truth About Loving v. Virginia and Why it Matters

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-06-15 16:54Z by Steven

The Truth About Loving v. Virginia and Why it Matters

Steven F. Riley

On June 12, 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark civil-rights case Loving v. Virginia that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law (known as the Racial Integrity Act of 1924) was unconstitutional. It did not as some suggest, legalize interracial marriage in the United States. It legalized interracial marriage in the 15 states that still had anti-miscegenation laws that prevented such unions.

Repeating this untruth actually undermines the legacy of our courageous American heroes Mildred and Richard Loving because it was their legal marriage in Washington, D.C. in June 1958 and subsequent prosecution in Virginia that began their saga on the road to the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the Lovings did not as some commentators also suggest, “win their right to marry” in their Supreme Court case because they were already married—and were raising three children. To reinforce the point, one need look no further than the now famous message Richard Loving relayed via his lawyers to the bench on April 10, 1967, when he stated simply, “Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Repeating this untruth obscures the legacy of the state legislatures that repealed their anti-miscegenation laws before Loving v. Virginia.

Repeating this untruth obscures the legacy of the states New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. which never enacted anti-miscegenation laws.

Repeating this untruth obscures the legacy of over 100 years of litigation against such laws including the unsuccessful Pace v. Alabama (1883), the War Brides Act (1945), the successful Perez v. Sharp (1948) which legalized interracial marriage in California, and McLaughlin v. Florida (1964) and which abrogated the cohabitation aspect of the Florida’s anti-miscegenation law. These cases and others laid the groundwork for the successful outcome of Loving v. Virginia.

Lastly, repeating this untruth obscures the legacy of centuries of lawful marriages across racial boundaries.

For posts about Loving v. Virginia click here.

©2013, Steven F. Riley


According to Our Hearts: Lessons Lost and Learned from the Cheerios Commercial Controversy

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2013-06-06 20:06Z by Steven

According to Our Hearts: Lessons Lost and Learned from the Cheerios Commercial Controversy

Steven F. Riley

Keeping our cholesterol and our expectations low

By now, most readers of and other race-related blogs and social media sites are well aware of the “Just Checking” commercial for the cereal brand Cheerios, a May 28 post on YouTube featuring an interracial family.

I would guess that the same readers are aware that General Mills, Inc., the maker of Cheerios, removed the comments section for the video after fielding a number of remarks that Camille Gibson, VP of  Marketing, stated were “not family friendly.”

Most other media outlets however, have not been so benign. The Deseret News reported “Biracial Cheerios commercial sparks racist comments;” The Huffington Post reported, “Cheerios Commercial Featuring Mixed Race Family Gets Racist Backlash;” MSNBC reported, “Interracial family in Cheerios ad sparks internet backlash,” to name just a few. Specialty news outlets chimed in also with AdWeeks’s headline, “It’s 2013, and People Are Still Getting Worked Up About Interracial Couples in Ads” and Business Insiders’This Is The Mixed-Race Cheerios Ad All The Idiots Are Complaining About.”

Despite the extensive coverage about the General Mills’ actions in response to the comments, there has been little if anything said about the actual comments posted on their YouTube site. Such is the sorry state of journalism today that comments about the news—rather than the actual events themselves—become the news.

I speculate with confidence that the Cheerios commercial received negative and racist comments (and positive and anti-racist comments too). A cursory scan through the videos on YouTube reveals that even apparently non-controversial videos can elicit the most hateful comments imaginable. Because General Mills is in the business of selling food products—and not in debating racial dynamics of family formation—it is understandable that they would remove the comments from the site.

Yet, General Mills’ action to remove the comments and the inaction of the media to investigate and shed light on those comments denies us the opportunity to confront and refute the ignorance and bigotry continuing to fester within our still pre-post-racial society.  Also, the overreaction to the yet unexposed remarks has the unintended consequence of empowering the individuals who posted them. Informed rebuttals to these comments could 1) enlighten the ignorant and racist commenters, 2) encourage others from embracing racist ignorance, and 3) provide solace and support to those waging combat against racist ignorance.  This concealment of ignorance merely encourages more ignorance as exemplified by (self-described unemployed) Meagan Hatcher-Mays’ essay in Jezebel titled, “I’m Biracial, and That Cheerios Ad Is a Big F–ing Deal. Trust Me,” where she, without quoting a single comment on the YouTube page, states, “What’s up with you racist dicks, anyway? Don’t you have jobs?” One commenter on a Facebook group posting even suggested that we could guess who reacted negatively to the ad.

Confronting the racism in the comments might just also provide us with an answer to that rhetorical question. Such an exercise would likely provide us an uncomfortable reminder that resistance and hostility to interracial relationships need not necessarily come from trolls from under the cloak of internet anonymity, but also from a family member we have known all of our lives.

I have not seen any of the racist comments in reference to the Cheerios ad, so I cannot comment on them. Yet I will remind readers that family formation across racialized borders have been occurring centuries before YouTube (2005), the birth of Barack Obama (1961—in Hawaii of course), court decisions to remove existing anti-miscegenation laws (1967), and acts of congress to reform immigration laws (1965). In fact, such family formations are as old as the Americas.  Relations between European men and indigenous women were essential to the establishment of European settlements in the pre-Columbian period. And as Audrey Smedley states in her 2007 presentation, “The History of the Idea of Race… And Why it Matters,”

No stigma was associated with [in the 1600s] what we today call intermarriages. Black men servants often married white women servants. Records from one county reveal that one fourth of the children born to European servant girls were mulatto (Breen and Ennis 1980). Historian Anthony Parent (2003) notes that five out of ten black men on the Eastern Shore were married to white women. One servant girl declared to her master that she would rather marry a Negro slave on a neighboring plantation than him with all of his property, and she did (P. Morgan 1998). Given the demographics, servant girls had their choice of men. One white widow of a black farmer had no problem with remarrying, this time to a white man. She later sued this second husband, accusing him of squandering the property she had accumulated with her first husband (E. Morgan 1975, 334). In another case, a black woman servant sued successfully for her freedom and then married the white lawyer who represented her in court (P. Morgan, 1998).

Though we are unable to learn much from the negative comments about the Cheerios commercial, I suggest we can learn much from the commercial itself.

As a person in an interracial marriage (25 years), I’m glad see yet another commercial featuring an interracial family. And the “Just Checking” commercial—in and by itself—is a amusing, pleasing, and does an excellent job of extoling the supposed health benefits of Cheerios. However, what troubles me is twofold. Firstly, the depiction of these families is far too rare. It is as if advertisers believe that these families do not exist, or worse, they believe they should not exist. This rendered invisibility contributes to the fear and animus that can occur when the rare depiction occurs.

Because interracial depictions are so rare, those of us who are supportive of such relationships far too frequently give our uncritical enthusiasm their visualizations. Yet, the depictions of these relationships are as important as their occurrence.  Images of interracial couples and families that are absent of the full range of intimacy of other relationships have the potential to foster harmful and demeaning attitudes to those couples and their families.

In Erica Chito Childs’s excellent monograph, Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture, she describes how such depictions can be used to simultaneously both demean and deviantize interracial relationships and normalize monoracial (particularly white) relationships when she states,

Throughout the various media realms—television, film, news media, and the less clearly defined intersecting worlds of music, sports, and youth culture—representations of interracial sex and relationships follow certain patterns, and what emerges is a delicate dance between interracial sex sells and interracial sex alienates.  The small number of representations as well as the particular types of depictions of interracial relationships, when they are shown, reveals the lingering opposition to interracial sexuality and marriage as well as the persistent racialized images of racial Others and the protection of whiteness. Interracial representations are symbolic struggles over meaning, not only in how interracial relationships are portrayed but also in how they are received, understood, and responded to in the larger society.  In particular, interracial images are used to perpetuate negative stereotypes yet are simultaneously marketed as an example of how color-blind we have become and of the declining significance of race. Yet one may ask, Why are interracial relationships shown at all if they are still widely opposed by whites and other racial groups? The answer is twofold, as we have seen throughout the book, that showing interracial relationships is a necessary piece of the current rhetoric that asserts race no longer matters and the representations are only shown in ways that either deviantize these relationships, privilege whiteness, or support the contention that America is color-blind.

Thus my second concern is that when interracial couples are depicted, there is a often a distinct lack of intimacy between the couple/family. (Contrast this to the highly visible illicit extra-marital interracial intimacy on a newly popular television show, provocatively named Scandal.) As is often mentioned in media studies, what is not seen is often as important if not more important than what is seen. In many instances, if you blink or are not paying close attention, it is difficult to know that the individuals are a couple in the first place. For example, I have yet to see an interracial couple depicted holding hands, kissing or appearing in a bed mattress commercial (although I have been informed that Ikea had such a commercial.) While the “Just Checking” ad uses the young girl’s words “mom” and “dad” to create the familiar and marital connections between characters, her parents are situated in separate rooms. In the context of a portrayal of families within a commercial ad, this physical separation is hardly an issue. Yet, General Mills continues with the apparent proscription of interracial intimacy within their ad.

With the Pew Research Center reporting that 15% of all new marriages in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, it is no longer acceptable for advertisers to suppress the portrayal of interracial families or obfuscate the intimacy within their infrequent portrayals. I do not believe that is unreasonable to suggest that viewers should see at least one interracial couple or family depicted within commercial ads during the daily television prime-time period. The time is now that we as viewers—and more importantly—as consumers, demand the public depiction of images of interracial couples exchanging wedding vows, in hospital delivery rooms expecting the birth of their child, buying homes, laying in bed, and sharing meals (including breakfast) at the same table.

A few years back, Giant Foods (a supermarket chain in the Washington, D.C. area) aired a television ad featuring a (real-life) mixed-race family with similar issues that I described. Since the theme of the commercial was family meals, this necessitated having the entire family at the table. Despite this fact, tightly cropped camera angles where used to frame each family member separately, only revealing their relationship to each other via the passing of a salad bowl.

Despite my mixed feelings, I did contact Giant Foods to compliment them for portraying the family, if not only to encourage them to do more commercials featuring interracial families, but to counter any negative responses they may have received.  In the case of General Mills and the Cheerios ad, I would suggest supporters do the same, but I would also they suggest that advertisers add more intimate family interactions.

And to General Mills, I would suggest that the next cereal commercial produced could depict the same family sitting together at the breakfast table eating a bowl of Cheerios. It will be good for their hearts, and ours too.

©2013, Steven F. Riley

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It is one of the most comprehensive websites about all things mixed-race…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, My Articles/Point of View/Activities on 2013-05-27 22:37Z by Steven

“First and foremost, I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest that people go to It is one of the most comprehensive websites about all things mixed-race… This is a website created by Steve Riley. He’s a regular on Mixed Race Radio and throughout the entire academic circle.. or circuit. He has created this website. And if you are looking for history, historical articles, snapshots of individuals doing amazing things in today’s world. A very real-time account of all things mixed-race.” —Tiffany Rae Reid

Kelly Ellison, “The Joys and Challenges of Becoming a Transracial Family Through Adoption,” Your Adoption Coach with Kelly Ellison (April 20, 2013, 00:27:25-00:28:04).

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Mixed Race Studies

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United Kingdom on 2013-05-24 14:40Z by Steven

Mixed Race Studies

Mixed Race Family

Elizabeth White

For global people who are mixed race, belong to a mixed race family, are starting a mixed race family or who are from the global human race and are interested in learning more about the experiences of global mixed race families.

Today I’m off to Leeds University to attend a conference entitled Mixing Matters: Critical Intersectionalities.  It promises to be a really interesting day;  a great opportunity to meet new people and to hear from scholars about Mixed Race issues. I’m sure that I will have lots more to blog about when I get back home.

Since starting my blog in February, I’ve come across a wide range of information from newspaper articles to books, but I have to say that I have been really impressed by the extensive and comprehensive collection of work collected by Steven Riley at Mixed Race Studies.  I highly recommend you explore the collection if you studying Mixed Race or are simply interested in finding out more…

Read the entire article here.

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An Evening with Our New Poet Laureate

Posted in Articles, Live Events, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Poetry, United States on 2013-04-03 20:48Z by Steven

An Evening with Our New Poet Laureate

Steven F. Riley

2012-2013 U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey at Library of Congress (2012-09-13).©2012, Steven F. Riley

Natasha Trethewey is preoccupied about race. And it is indeed a fruitful preoccupation for which we all should be grateful.

[View the inaugural reading here.]

Last Thursday, Emory University Professor Trethewey gave her inaugural reading as the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. After a warm introduction by the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Ms. Trethewey arrived on stage for a handshake from Mr. Billington and a standing ovation by a packed and enthusiastic audience of 5oo (plus an extra 100 outside the auditorium).

Ms. Trethewey is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and she is the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993. Ms. Trethewey is also the Mississippi Poet Laureate (2012-2016); winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry Native Guard; winner of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; four Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prizes; The Lillian Smith Book Awards for Poetry; fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University; 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year; 2009 inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers; and 2011 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. And she is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.

Ms. Trethewey read a selection of poems from her recently released book of poems dedicated to her poet father, titled Thrall.

The poems read were:

  • “Elegy (For my father)
  • Taxonomy:
    • De Español y de India Produce Mestiso”
    • De Español y Negra Produce Mulato”
    • De Español y Mestiza Produce Castiza”
    • The Book of Castas”
  • “Knowledge”
  • “Miracle of the Black Leg”
  • “The Americans” (“Help, 1968”)
  • Mano Prieta”
  • Torna Atrás”
  • “Mythology”
  • “Calling: Mexico, 1969
  • “Fouled”
  • “Rotation”
  • “Enlightenment”
  • “Illumination.”

Born in 1966 to a black mother and white father in Mississippi—the tortured crucible of race relations in the United States—it is understandable that the topic of race would be a recurring theme in Trethewey’s writings. Yet we never grow tired reading her poems about race because of her innate ability to weave the personal with the historical. As a consequence, her stories are our stories. As in her poem, “Elightenment,” where she describes a trip to Monticello with her father, for a few brief moments we read how she conflates one of our founding fathers with her own father.

…I did not know then the subtext
of our story, that my father could imagine
Jefferson’s words made flesh in my flesh—

Without taking herself too seriously, Ms. Trethewey humorously described that the only surviving remnant of a family trip to Mexico in 1969 was a photograph of her sitting on a mule, as she began reading “Calling: Mexico, 1969.

In her series of moving poems about casta paintings, Ms. Trethewey reveals her ability to not only compel the reader to contemplate the lives of the subjects of the paintings, but also to bring the subjects of the paintings to life as in her poem “Taxonomy: De Español y de India Produce Mestiso” (Which describes a series of casta paintings by Juan Rodríguez Juárez, c. 1715).

Spaniard and Indian Produce Mestizo. c. 1715. Oil on canvas. 81×105 cm. (Breamore House, Hampshire, United Kingdom).

The canvas is leaden sky
behind them, heavy
with words, gold letters inscribing
an equation of blood—…

…If the father, his hand
on her skull, divines—
as the physiognomist does—
the mysteries

of her character, discursive,
legible on her light flesh,
in the soft curl of her hair,
we cannot know it: so gentle

the eye he turns toward her.
The mother, glancing
sideways toward him—
the scarf on her head

white as his face,
his powdered wig—gestures
with one hand a shape
like the letter C. See,

she seems to say,
what we have made

After concluding her reading with her poem, “Illumination,” Ms. Trethewey received yet another standing ovation.

Head of the Poetry and Literature Center Robert Casper concluded the event, and Ms. Trethewey entered the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building for a reception and book signing.

©2012, Steven F. Riley

©2012, Steven F. Riley