In this “captivating saga” of the post-Reconstruction era, a black female journalist blazes her own trail—“unforgettable; gripping; an instant classic” (Elle).
Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, discovers a lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in the printed word until she earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson Collegiate in Austin.
Finally fleeing the Jim Crow South to settle in Kansas City, Ivoe and Ona, her former teacher and present lover, start the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer—the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest—Ivoe risks her freedom and her life to call attention to the atrocities of the American prison system.
Inspired by the legacy of trailblazing black women like Ida B. Wells and Charlotta Bass, LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s Jam On the Vine is both an epic vision of the hardships that defined an era and “an ode to activism, writ[ten] with a scholar’s eye and a poet’s soul” (Tayari Jones, O The Oprah Magazine).