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 ancestry.com, 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.
A Heroic Family History
By Cheryl Wills
On Sale January 3, 2011