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Riverside Book Club – “Behind the Scenes”

November 11 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

On November 11, 2023, at 11:00 A.M., via ZOOM, the Riverside Book Club discusses the book, Behind the Scenes by Elizabeth Keckley, was once both a slave and a seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln. Ms. Keckley’s book was banned over a century and a half ago. That is largely because Lincoln’s son feared that the book revealed little-known sides of the President and Mrs. Lincoln. The banning occurred over a century and a half ago. However, the struggle over truth-telling and the banning of books continues.

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Keckley’s book is being discussed  within the context of the Banned Books Movement, which, to date, has resulted in 35 State legislatures passing various legislation regulating content that can be taught in public schools and legitimizing the banning of related books. American Library Association research indicates that a disproportionate number of banned books have to do with histories of people of color or issues related to people of LGBQIA+ communities.

Riversider Tami Tyree will be the presenter and facilitator of the Book Club discussion. She has written a play, based on the book, titled, Colored Silk: A Civil War Odyssey. The play will be produced at The Players Theater in New York between November 2-19. Tyree stars as Elizabeth Keckley in the production.

The book is available in Riverside’s Welcome Center on the first floor, near the Claremont entrance. It is also available through local libraries, and in digital form at various outlets.

About Tami Tyree:

Tami Tyree is a multidisciplinary artist with a degree in Theater and Communication from Howard University. She is a  singer, actress, writer, arts educator, and historian.  She founded Echoes of Our Ancestors. It teaches African American History. The program has been performance-driven, through song, since 2007.  Ecohoes of our ancestors has been able to presents free and low-cost experiences above and beyond the classroom. She has received awards and artistic grants.

       Ms. Tyree believes that she found her song while growing up in a world that was hostile toward people of color. She believes that she would have had low self-esteem if she had not gotten knowledge of the contributions of her ancestors to America and the world.  She has lived in Harlem for thirty years. For much of that time, she has devoted her time to producing and performing in public facing concerts, participating in and conducting field trips, in addition to traveling to various parts of the world.  

         In terms of performance, she is a soloist, chorister, cabaret chanteuse, song writer and lyricist.  She is best known for Gospel, Blues, Jazz, and for performing music from the Great American Songbook. Highlights of her musical career include performing at: The Apollo Theater, The David Giffert Hall, in Jazz at Lincoln Center, at the United Nations and performing a soundtrack on the Academic Audio Host, of “Petrie 12 Years a Slave She sang Duke Ellington’s of Ellington’s “Come Sunday” for the Emir of Argungu at his palace in Nigeria, and then performed before the entire nation in 2018. Ms. Tyree  also opened the festivities of Black History Month 2020 with the rendition of the Star Spangled Banner /Lift Every Voice Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

      Tyree recently completed a four-month residency at a senior center, where she taught the history and the performance of Gospel music. That was while she was also forming a concert choir where she taught the history and performance of Gospel Music.   She has composed a historical drama on the life of civil war governmental dressmaker Elizabeth Keckly entitled, “Colored Silk: A Civil War Odyssey” that will make its Off Broadway debut at NYC’s Players Theater, November 2-11, 2023.


Players Theater, 115 MacDougal Street, NYC  212-475-1449.  Discount Code: DRESSY1


November 11
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
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