Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Q&A with Author Phyllis Hodges

Phyllis Hodges
We recently had the opportunity to ask author Phyllis Hodges questions about her book, which will be available for purchase during her Pen to Podium lecture 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16. 
Hodges will talk about living history-makers, which is an often-overlooked subject. She is the author of “8 years of Unforgettable History: the Allure of America’s First."

Q: Why should Arkansans who aren’t normally history buffs pay attention to your research or come to Pen to Podium?
A: My history book is unique...It's a Living history book, all the individuals are alive and well. People should come to the lecture because it's a hands-on lecture and book signing. A lot of the Arkansas First will be on hand to autograph and to answer questions.

Q: Why does a list of firsts in Arkansas history matter? What makes this topic important?
A: This topic is important because most people don't realize how many Arkansans that are world renowned live so close to us in Arkansas.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book? What sparked your interest?
A: The idea of my book came when I went to the library to check out a history book.... The history books I found were about decease of African Americans (and) slavery, wars. I couldn't find any living history books that combined the American History. Especially NO African American history. So then, I started asking questions to youth and adults about African American history. The people they would speak of were the same individuals. MLK, Daisy Bates, Rosie Parks, George Washington Carver — all these legends -- are heroes but in the past. Which is so important but we need to know present history as well.

Q: How does your background fit into this book?
A: My book was inspired our former President Barack Obama because this type of history was something that my dad, the late James Marshall, Sr., and many other African American seniors didn't have the opportunity to witness.

Q: How might your book relate to ongoing politics in Arkansas or the U.S.?
A: First of all my book is not a political book...but when most people see my book, due to the cover that's what they think. My book is a CURRENT Living History Book, a book for all readers, Americans.

Q. What is one thing you wish people knew about your book and the work it took to put it together?
A: It took nine years, plus, to complete. It started when Barack Obama was a senator, up until he finish his eight years in the white House as the Commander in Chief. There are a lot of similarities that the Arkansas First have with Mr. Obama that I write about.

Q. Among the firsts you write about, who has inspired you the most?
A: I can't select just one of the first that I write about that inspired me the most, they all are heroes and she-roes.

Q: How has the Arkansas State Archives helped you in your research?
A: The Arkansas Archives was very helpful when I was conducting my research. I found out many people I interviewed during the time I was putting my book together didn't know many of the individuals that I was writing about, so I decided to contact The Arkansas Archives.

Q: What is the most unique thing about or in your book?
A: The book cover. It was illustrated out of a dream I had. I was referred to an artist that sketched the cover of the book while I share my dream with him.

Pen to Podium is free.
Reception starts at 5:30 p.m., courtesy of Friends of the Arkansas State Archives.