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New CLSC Selection Announced: The First Ladies
Chautauqua Institution's Department of Education has announced The First Ladies: A Novel, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week One of the 2024 Summer Assembly Season.
The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune refuses to back down as white supremacists attempt to thwart her work. She marches on as an activist and an educator, and as her reputation grows she becomes a celebrity, revered by titans of business and recognized by U.S. Presidents. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is awestruck and eager to make her acquaintance. Initially drawn together because of their shared belief in women’s rights and the power of education, Mary and Eleanor become fast friends confiding their secrets, hopes and dreams—and holding each other’s hands through tragedy and triumph.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, the two women begin to collaborate more closely, particularly as Eleanor moves toward her own agenda separate from FDR, a consequence of the devastating discovery of her husband’s secret love affair. Eleanor becomes a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights. And when she receives threats because of her strong ties to Mary, it only fuels the women’s desire to fight together for justice and equality.
This is the story of two different, yet equally formidable, passionate, and committed women, and the way in which their singular friendship helped form the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.
Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator. She found her calling unearthing the hidden historical stories of women. Her mission is to excavate from the past the most important, complex and fascinating women of history and bring them into the light of present-day where we can finally perceive the breadth of their contributions as well as the insights they bring to modern day issues. A graduate of Boston College and the Boston University School of Law, she is the New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Carnegie’s Maid, The Other Einstein, and Lady Clementine. All have been translated into multiple languages. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.
Victoria Christopher Murray is an acclaimed author with more than one million books in print. She has written more than thirty novels, including Stand Your Ground, a NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Fiction and a Library Journal Best Book of the Year and New York Times Instant Best Sellers, The Personal Librarian and The First Ladies. Both novels, Victoria co-wrote with Marie Benedict. Over her career, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award, the Delta Sigma Theta Osceola Award for Excellence in the Arts, Go On Girl Book Club Author of the Year, eleven African American Literary Awards and five NAACP Image Award nominations. In 2016, she won the Image Award for Outstanding Literature for her social commentary novel, Stand Your Ground. A native New Yorker, Victoria Christopher Murray attended Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University’s Stern Business School where she received her MBA in Marketing.