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Ann Bausum'79 releases new book

January 10, 2012

Local author and Beloit College alumna Ann Bausum’79 will discuss her latest book with the campus and community on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. in Pearsons Hall’s Moore Lounge.

Marching to the Mountaintop, Bausum’s latest historical work for the National Geographic Society, was released today (Jan. 10) and tells the story of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike and how it figured in the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life.

Bausum’s presentation, titled “Marching to the Mountaintop—The Dream in Memphis and the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” will include slides and photos from the book and her research. A question and answer session will follow the lecture and copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing as well. The event is co-sponsored by the Beloit Public Library.

In her introduction to Marching Bausum writes, “During the 1960s the sanitation workers of Memphis showed up for work every day knowing they would be treated like garbage. By the end of the day they smelled and felt like garbage, too. Unfairness guided their employment, and racism ruled their workdays… until something snapped, one day in February 1968, and the men collectively declared, ’Enough is enough.’”

The book, as its subtitle reveals, goes on to show “How poverty, labor fights, and civil rights set the stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final hours.” An excerpt from Marching to the Mountaintop on further illustrates how Bausum carefully and clearly goes about the work of recounting the story of the Memphis strike (and the conditions – and tragedy – that led to it) before detailing King’s involvement and the circumstances leading up to his death in Memphis.

Bausum’s lecture will be the eighth in a series of annual lectures at the college celebrating the life and legacy of the civil rights leader. Past speakers have included James Perkins, former mayor of Selma, Ala.; Joanne Bland, co-founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute; Robert L. Belle, Jr., former director of the Federal TRIO Programs within the U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Phil Christian’81, a Beloit alumnus and a physician dedicated to providing health care to the poor and underserved; Sherrick Anderson, senior pastor of Higher Ground Christian Center in Beloit; and Regina M. Prude, founder of New Directions Management Services, Inc.  Last year, Debra Majeed, associate professor and chair of philosophy and religious studies at Beloit College, delivered the annual address.    

 Bausum is an award-winning children's book author, and Marching to the Mountaintop is her ninth book for the National Geographic Society.