Lead Up to Daughters of A Nation: Let Us Dream

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Hey! In case you missed it last week, Kianna Alexander, Lena Hart, Piper Huguley, and me have another anthology coming out! Our last anthology was linked by novellas about Juneteenth, and this newest antho features suffragettes finding love while changing the country for the better. The anthology will be released on November 1st (if you’d like to be alerted when it’s available, sign up for my newsletter here or an anthology-specific newsletter here), and in the weeks leading up to the release we’d like to share a bit of the history that went into our stories.

My novella is called Let Us Dream:

Harlem—1917. After spending half her life pretending to be something she’s not, performance is second nature for cabaret owner Bertha Hines. With the election drawing near and women’s voting rights on the ballot, Bertha decides to use her persuasive skills to push the men of New York City in the right direction.

Chef Amir Chowdhury jumped ship in New York to get a taste of the American Dream, only to discover he’s an unwanted ingredient. When ornery Amir reluctantly takes a job at The Cashmere, he thinks he’s hit the bottom of the barrel; however, working at the club reignites his dream of being a force for change. His boss, Bertha, ignites something else in him.

Bertha and Amir clash from the start, but her knowledge of politics and his knowledge of dance force them into a detente that fans the flames of latent desire. But Bertha has the vice squad on her tail, and news from home may end Amir’s dream before it comes to fruition. With their pasts and futures stacked against them, can Amir and Bertha hold on to their growing love?

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A little headcasting for Bertha and Amir. 🙂 (Photo on left by James Van Der Zee circa 1920)

 

There was so much going on during this time period, but two of the bigger events that affect my hero and heroine are the Immigration Act of 1917 (also known as the Literacy Act and the Asiatic Barred Zone Act) and the vote for women’s suffrage in New York State.

While Asian immigration had already been severely restricted by previous legislation (such as the Naturalization Act of 1870 that blocked citizenship to Chinises immigrants and Chinese women from entering the country), the Immigration Act of 1917 blocked immigration from most of Asia and the Pacific Islands. This left Asians already in the US, those born here and those who emigrated (or jumped ship like many South Asian sailors), without basic civil rights. Amir’s fighting spirit falters when he realizes that the American Dream isn’t meant for people like him, but then he meets Bertha.

While some states had already granted women the right to vote, most US stated denied women this right. In 1917, women’s suffrage was on the ballot again, and suffragettes of all kinds mobilized to win the right to vote. Black women were heavily involved in the fight, as they have been for so many Civil Rights battles. Although Bertha isn’t a typical suffragette, she knows that voting equals power, and she’s not one to cede her power to anyone–and then she meets Amir.

The story is set in Harlem on the cusp of the Harlem Renaissance, a neighborhood that reflected the amazing changes, both the highs and the lows, going on in the US at that time, making it a really fun project. I hope you guys enjoy it!

Next Monday, Kianna will talk about her 1881-set novella, A Radiant Soul!

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