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Author Anna-Lisa Cox

Anna-Lisa Cox

Date, Location

    A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith

    Despite our nation’s history of violence, hate, and racial injustice, there was a place in nineteenth-century Michigan where ordinary Americans, black and white, treated each other as equals and as friends. Author Anna-Lisa Cox shares her history of Covert, Michigan, A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith. She remembers an America that miraculously once was, and offers a vision for what our nation might be.

    About the Book

    In the heartland of the United States 150 years ago, where racism and hatred were common, a community decided there could be a different America. Here schools and churches were completely integrated, blacks and whites intermarried, and power and wealth were shared by both races. But for this to happen, the town’s citizens had to keep secrets, break the laws of the world outside, and sweep aside fear and embrace hope.

    In a historical-detective feat, Anna-Lisa Cox uncovers the heartening story of this community that took the road untaken. Beginning in the 1860s, the people of Covert, Michigan, attempted to do what then seemed impossible: love one’s neighbor—regardless of skin color—as oneself. Drawing on diaries, oral histories, and contemporary records, Cox gives us intimate glimpses of Covert’s people, from William Conner, the Civil War veteran who went on to become Michigan's first black justice of the peace, to Elizabeth Gillard, who, shipwrecked and washed onto Covert's shores, ultimately came to love the unusual community she would call home. In bringing these and other stories of this small town to light, Cox presents a vision of what our nation might have been, and could be.

    NPR Feature: “Covert, Michigan: A History in Black and White”

    In December 2006, NPR featured a story about Covert, including interviews with author and historian Anna-Lisa Cox.

    About the Author


    Anna-Lisa Cox is an active historian, writer, and lecturer on the history of race relations in the nineteenth-century Midwest. She received her M.Phil. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, and her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Illinois. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her research, including the National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholars Award, the Gilder Lehrman Foundation Fellowship, the Pew Younger Scholars Fellowship and a Spencer Foundation grant.

    She is the author of A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith, published by Little, Brown in 2006 and winner of the Michigan Notable Book award. She was a Scholar in Residence at the Newberry Library from 2002 to 2006, where she was also the Director of their Rural History Seminar program. She is a non-resident fellow at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute as well as a consultant to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Anna-Lisa currently resides in Michigan where she is at work on a book entitled, "Founding Freedom"--a history of African American pioneers on the antebellum Midwestern frontier.