When Atlanta authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal started writing “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight,” they were often met with the question: Is your book still going to be relevant upon release?
But a year after its release, America continues to grapple with civil unrest and the growing list of police shootings, from Michael Brown in 2014 to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and Jacob Blake in 2020. The book also became a New York Times bestseller.
Jones and Segal have different backgrounds. Segal grew up in Florida with a love for writing. Meanwhile, Jones hails from Chicago, where her activism started at a young age after joining the civil-rights-focused nonprofit Rainbow PUSH founded by Jesse Jackson. It was their role as mothers and writers that brought them together for the book.
Q: What has it been like working on a book like “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight” and having conversations around it when we’re actively living civil unrest and police protests in 2020?
Jones: The interesting part about it is when Gilly and I first started writing this book, we can’t tell you how many naysayers said to us “Is your book still going to be relevant upon release?” We’re looking around like, it’s been relevant for 40 years. What’s going to happen in the next two years? That’s the part that makes us sad. Gilly and I always say that we wish that this was a work of historical fiction, but it’s not. It’s a contemporary book, and it’s still a very contemporary book.
Q: For folks who are reading this, especially during a time of civil unrest, what do you hope that they walk away understanding?
Credit: Ben Gray
Credit: Ben Gray
Jones: One of the things I’ve been proactive about in the last month is beyond just showing up in the expected places that people assume I will be, like marches and lectures and interviews and things like that—and I’m happy to do those things—all of these different pieces are part of the clock that is ticking. But also, like today, I’m at a food drive. Because part of helping in this situation is we have economic disparities and food disparities and medical disparities. So we have to be conscious that even though there are many of us fighting these front lines, there are still daily situations that are affecting the populations that we’re fighting for. We have to create opportunities while we fight for the legislation.
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