Black Book Author Spotlight: Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool
by Donna Michele Ramos, Contributing Writer

Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool is the author of several books celebrating our African American legacy. One of the books “Kenyatta’s Stone” was written so our children can learn about their history, story and contributions as well as all the horrible things we have survived since slavery.

Author Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool

THE HUB: How long have you been writing?
Seriously more than 30 years. This is my third book. I co-authored two books with Anita Roysen, “Our Black Mothers: Brave, Bold and Beautiful and “Our Black Fathers: Brave, Bold and Beautiful.”

THE HUB: How long did it take to write?
I started and finished in the 1990’s. Being the breadwinner, it wasn’t a priority. My husband had MS and my daughter has late in life autism. When I retired in 2019, I picked it up. Kenyatta Stone evolved over that time but the main them was the same. I tweaked it here and there. She evolved at the point she was supposed to.

THE HUB: What inspired you to write Kenyatta’s Stone?
As a child of the 1960’s I remember being ostracized and being invisible. I remember coming across a picture of enslaved children. I could not take my eyes off of them. I wondered if they had dreams or a voice. What would have happened to me if I were born then? I found out my great great grandparents were enslaved in Georgia and South Carolina. Florida Elvine and Warren Gaines were on my dad’s side. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It is painful but a blessing to have their names. My father is a descendant of Alice Gaines. I never knew it didn’t happen but it crystalized it. That is what led me to write about Kenyatta.

THE HUB: What do you hope people, especially kids get from this?
A history that will bring them as far as they can go in their lives. She was taken from Africa, but before that she knew freedom for 7 years. I want young people to be brave, hear our history to know where they come from today. It is so critical to know this today, we can’t let people shut us down. Kenyatta was free and brave. That gave this little girl license to say what she wanted to say. All of us belong. People must respect each other and our history. Everyone has made some sort of contribution. I want to keep elevating young people to see their beauty and power.

THE HUB: Do you have future projects in the works?
After working in middle of night on this book for 30 years. Now I am working on a teacher companion book for schools and libraries. I also wrote poetry books “On the Shore of her Memory” and “Jossy is too Bossy.” In addition to this are books on autism. I am also a motivational speaker, considering starting a blog, and lastly turning books into a play.

Click here to purchase the book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool’s, great, great grandparents endured two decades of enslavement in Georgia and South Carolina. Due to their sacrifices, she is moved to contribute to the healing that comes through humanity. Besides being an author, Joslyn is a motivational speaker, lecturer, philanthropist, and an empowerment specialist. She is also the co-author of several books from the Brave, Bold and Beautiful book series: Our Black Fathers, Brave, Bold and Beautiful! and Our Black Mothers, Brave, Bold and Beautiful! The series was created in collaboration with Anita McGee Royston. Joslyn currently resides in Northern California with her husband and daughter. After attaining a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, she had a varied career. First as a congressional intern in Washington DC, and then as a writer for political organizations and journals. Afterward she worked in the field of education at Howard University, the University of New Mexico and American River College, where she did community outreach, led scholarship seminars and lectured in Minorities in America classes. Joslyn is excited about the future which includes inspirational podcasting, and writing plays, and more books about the African American experience, Autism and Living One’s Best Life!


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