Cover Reveal & Interview: UNEQUAL by Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Favreau

We are pleased to share an exclusive first look and cover reveal for UNEQUAL: A STORY OF AMERICA by Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Favreau. But before we show the cover, here is chat we had with Michael Eric and Marc about the creation of their new book, out in the world in May 2022.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is a Vanderbilt University sociology professor, a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor to The New Republic. He is also an ordained minister and author of best-selling adult books about race, such as the forthcoming Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America. Marc Favreau is the director of editorial programs at the New Press and the author of several nonfiction titles for teens, including Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia and Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America. They are joining forces to write an incisive look at how race has been woven into the fabric of our country since its inception.

We are pleased to share an exclusive first look and cover reveal for their book UNEQUAL: A STORY OF AMERICA. But before we show the cover, here is chat we had with Michael Eric and Marc about the creation of the book, out in the world in May 2022.

Shelley Diaz: Congratulations on the-soon-to-be publication of Unequal and your wonderful cover. What was your gut reaction to the cover when it was presented to you?

Michael Eric Dyson & Marc Favreau: Well it kind of hit us in the gut, to be honest! It’s such a keen visual representation of the argument we are trying to make and the history we are trying to show. In some ways it reminds us of Frederick Douglass’s famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” because the image, like the speech, calls into question the meaning of America for those millions of people who have not enjoyed equal access to the privileges of citizenship, even after slavery ended in 1865—and up to the present day.

Marc Favreau
Photo by Molly Glasgow

SD: As you know, there’s been an intense and widespread campaign against the inclusion of books by and about people of color in libraries and curricula. How does your work and book address these types of efforts?

MED & MF: Our subtitle, A Story of America, is very intentional. You can’t teach about, learn about, or try to understand our history without coming to terms with the absence of true equality and the epic fight to make America live up to its promises. We’ve tried to make the case that this history cannot be disentangled from the broader American story—and that it’s not about making some kids feel guilty, but rather about doing justice to the truth of our common past.

SD: In Unequal, you profile 20 Black Americans, including Ida B. Wells and Nikole Hannah-Jones. How did you go about selecting whom you would feature?

MED & MF: It was hard, because the list is so long, and because it includes both famous and little-known people. The real story of racial inequality—and resistance to it—is the prologue to our present, and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible in telling that story. We aimed to feature the freedom fighters from all walks of life who were at the center of America’s 150-year struggle for equality. And we wanted to underline how ordinary-seeming people have pushed back against white supremacy, against immense odds and often at risk of their own lives. We also wanted to make the point that this isn’t just about the civil rights movement. Our story begins in 1865 and continues unbroken to 2021.

SD: You’ve written several best-selling books for adults. What made you turn to books for young people, and how was that writing process different?

MED: A few factors drove me. First, I was motivated by the willful ignorance that is being imposed on young folk by elders who are cruelly distorting our national history. Second, I wanted to combat the legacy of lies perpetuated in our political life that bleeds into the schoolrooms of our youth. Third, although I’ve gained great satisfaction in writing for adults, if we are to make a real go at fighting civic mendacity and historical amnesia, we’ve got to start with engaging young readers. Finally, Marc Favreau is one of the most talented writers and thinkers I’ve ever met, and the chance to join him in our critical mission of uplifting truth and pursuing justice was irresistible.

And now, without further ado, here is the cover UNEQUAL, which will be out in May 2022.

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