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Thomas, Velma Maia 1955–

Thomas, Velma Maia 1955–

Personal

Born June 18, 1955, in Detroit, MI; daughter of Otis Thomas (a mail clerk) and Emma Thomas Daniels (a nurse); married Milton Fann (a minister); children: Olu Fann. Ethnicity: "African American." Education: Howard University, B.A. (journalism); Emory University, M.A. (political science).

Addresses

Home—Atlanta, GA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Crown Publishing Group/Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019-4305. E-mail[email protected]

Career

Writer, historian, and genealogist. Black Holocaust Exhibit, Atlanta, GA, creator and curator; minister of Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church.

Awards, Honors

Alex Award, American Library Association (ALA), Literary Honor Award for Nonfiction, ALA Black Caucus, 1998, and Best Books designation, Washington Post, all for Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation; Georgia Writer of the Year Award for Young Adult Books finalist, 2000, for Freedom's Children: The Passage from Emancipation to the Great Migration; Contribution to Publishing Award, ALA Black Caucus, 2002, for We Shall Not Be Moved.

Writings

Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation, Crown (New York, NY), 1997.

Freedom's Children: The Journey from Emancipation into the Twentieth Century, Crown (New York, NY), 2000.

No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey from Slavery to Emancipation through Song (includes CD), Crown (New York, NY), 2001.

We Shall Not Be Moved: The Passage from the Great Migration to the Million Man March, Crown (New York, NY), 2002.

Sidelights

Velma Maia Thomas, creator and curator of the Black Holocaust Exhibit in Atlanta, Georgia, is also an ordained minister and an award-winning author. Her books, which feature removable "documents", include Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation and Freedom's Children: The Passage from Emancipation to the Great Migration, the second a finalist for the 2000 Georgia Writer of the Year Award for Young Adult Books. Freedom's Children was praised as "breathtaking in its scope and successful in its delicate handling of historical facts and memorabilia" by Black Issues Book Review critics Samiya A. Bashire and Kelly Ellis.

The third book in Thomas's interactive history series, We Shall Not Be Moved: The Passage from the Great Migration to the Million Man March, explores the African-American struggle for freedom and equality and encompasses twentieth-century history from the Harlem Renaissance through the civil-rights era to the Million Man March. For her scholarly work on this piece, Thomas received the 2002 Contribution to Publishing Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

In addition to her interactive history series, Thomas has also produced a compact disc and accompanying book titled No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey from Slavery to Freedom through Song. The work presents the history of African-American spirituals, work songs, love songs and more, and includes sixteen recorded songs, several sung by Thomas herself. Noting the book's "attractive layout" and "lavish illustrations," Joyce Fay Fletcher added in her review for School Library Journal that Thomas's work is "brief but powerful."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

American Visions, August, 2000, review of Freedom's Children: The Journey from Emancipation into the Twentieth Century, p. 32.

Black Issues Book Review, November, 2000, Samiya A. Bahir and Kelly Ellise, review of Freedom's Children, p. 65.

Booklist, December 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation, p. 700; March 15, 1998, review of Lest We Forget, p. 1225; April 1, 1998, review of Lest We Forget, p. 1311; March 15, 1999, review of Lest We Forget, p. 1297.

School Library Journal, May, 1998, Peggy Bercher, review of Lest We Forget, p. 178; April, 2002, Joyce Fay Fletcher, review of No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey from Slavery to Emancipation through Song, p. 189.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1998, review of Lest We Forget, p. 40.

ONLINE

Velma Maia Thomas Home Page, http://www.velmamaiathomas.com (May 5, 2006).

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