Special to The Banner

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana, in partnership with The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC), will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation, “A Monumental Task: How Brian K. Mitchell Unearthed the Story of His Famous Ancestor Oscar Dunn, America’s First Black Lieutenant Governor.”

The pre-recorded presentation will be available on YouTube and Facebook on at noon Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Mitchell, author of “Monumental: Oscar Dunn’s Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana,” and Nick Weldon, of The Historic New Orleans Collection, the book’s editor, will discuss the project and Mitchell’s personal connection to Dunn.

Mitchell and Weldon will discuss the book further at the collection’s 2021 symposium, “Recovered Voices: Black Activism in New Orleans from Reconstruction to the Present Day” on March 5–7.  

“Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana” reveals in graphic-novel format the life story of Louisiana’s – and America’s –

 first black lieutenant governor and acting governor.

The book is the culmination of decades of research by Mitchell, one of Dunn’s descendants.

The work of Mitchell, Dunn and illustrator Barrington S. Edwards bring to light an essential piece of American history.

“This partnership between the State Library and THNOC gives Louisianians and others the opportunity to learn of my predecessor’s rise from being born enslaved and emancipated at a young age to becoming Louisiana’s first black lieutenant governor,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said.

“Not only is Dunn’s journey remarkable, but so is Mitchell’s perseverance,” added state Librarian Rebecca Hamilton.

“After learning about his famous relative from his great-grandmother as a child, he was embarrassed in class when his second-grade teacher refuted his claim that Dunn served as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor.

“Yet Mitchell went on to pursue a career in history and made Dunn the subject of his University of New Orleans dissertation, which formed the foundation of the outstanding ‘Monumental.’ “