About 13 and half years ago, Vertigo Books hosted Barack Obama at our old location near Dupont Circle for his memoir. We were the DC stop on a modest book tour. It was August of 1995, and you know, DC in August is not a stand-out month for events. You can find street parking near Dupont Circle the town is so empty. We tried to push the event date to September, but no go.
It was, shall we say, an intimate gathering. I’d read the book and liked it, thought it a strong debut and told folks so. We discussed community organizing (I’d moved to DC to work for ACORN) and books to fill the time while a small group of regulars filtered in. As we spoke, Barack Obama listened with his now famous detachment, listening and appraising. He read fairly well–for a debut author–there were a few questions, books were signed and he was out the door. No escort as I recall.
In the DC area, we sometimes take the great diversity of voices in our daily lives for granted. Our store has always hoped to engage all American voices, but like many we thought the real change would come with our children’s generation. That’s why Monday’s book event is a special pleasure: it is an opportunity for young children and their parents to participate in the Day of Service, albeit in a small way.
In February we’ll continue the conversation with journalists and authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Gwen Ifill.
Postscript-Vertigo has also hosted the Inaugural Poet, professor and critic Elizabeth Alexander (as well as her mother, historian Adele Logan Alexander). Elizabeth has been active for years with Cave Canem and they will be hosting an event Monday night for other Cave Canem poets.