Friday, December 17, 2010

DIE FREE A Heroic Family History by Cheryl Wills

In January, Bascom Hill Publishing Group is thrilled to publish Cheryl Wills’ first book, DIE FREE: A Heroic Family History (Bascom Hill Publishing Group, January 3, 2011), a true-story of the television journalist’s remarkable family journey from slavery to freedom in America.

As the nation marks the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War in 2011, Cheryl is hopeful that her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills’ courageous stint in that Great will be remembered along with the other 200,000 members of the United States Colored Troops. In Civil War anniversaries past, black soldiers have been largely ignored.

DIE FREE is packed with powerful personal stories, many of which are obtained from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Cheryl’s exhaustive research, with the help a genealogist and the popular website, unearths a history that defies common stereotypes about the antebellum and reconstruction periods in the United States. For example, Cheryl’s great-great-great grandparents, Sandy and Emma Wills, remained friendly with their former slave owners and even married in their house. In DIE FREE Cheryl also uncovers how the federal government routinely discriminated against black Civil War veterans and their widows when they applied for pensions. Documents reveal a disturbing pattern of injustice as veterans were required to answer humiliating questions about their skin color and forced to hire legal representation.

This fascinating thread of American history is set against a backdrop of Cheryl’s father, a courageous army paratrooper who served during the Vietnam era and later joined the ranks of the New York City Fire Department. As the first African-American who integrated the oldest firehouse in the city, Engine 1, the author digs deep and shares how her father died at the age of 38 – without ever knowing his family’s distinguished Civil War legacy.

DIE FREE is a call to action for all Americans to ‘uncover your past to empower your future.’ Cheryl Wills demonstrates that you can be emboldened by the courage of your ancestors and walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. After reading the pages of this uplifting book, you’ll learn that the debt for your freedom and prosperity has already been paid.

“Die Free is a compelling American story. As Cheryl Wills traces the life of her forefathers and foremothers, she traces a critical part of American history that puts in perspective where we have come from to get to where we are.”

-Rev. Al Sharpton

“ is proud the Cheryl Wills used our comprehensive website to make such a fascinating discovery. Die Free is a perfect example of why we do what we do!”

-Loretto “Lou” Dennis Szucs, V.P.,

“The stories are so deeply engaging that readers will quickly realize that in telling her personal story, Cheryl Wills is also telling ours”

-Warrington Hudlin, Pres., Black Filmmaker Foundation

Die Free is a significant contribution to the body of literature that traces the experiences and family heritage of Africans in the diaspora, a journey that is all too familiar.”

-Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai, President and National

Spokesperson, United African Congress

“The discovery of Cheryl’s great-great-great grandfather has been a fortuitous and unexpected find---tracking down slavery ancestry is never easy as slaves were treated as property, brought and sold, and rarely referred to by name.”

-Craig Rice, Association of Professional Genealogists


Cheryl Wills, longtime news anchor for Time Warner Cable’s New York 1 News featured regularly on the Huffington Post, holds a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She was awarded in 2005 with an honorary doctorate from New York College of Health Professions and honored in 2010 as a broadcast legend in a regional campaign for McDonalds. Wills has moderated events broadcast on C-SPAN, is a nationally known public speaker, and has played herself in several big-screen movies.


A Heroic Family History

By Cheryl Wills

978-1-935098-40-9*24.95*207 pages

On Sale January 3, 2011




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