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Behind the Book: Blake Hill-Saya

Monday, February 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. PST

Join Blake Hill-Saya, author of Aaron McDuffie Moore: An African American Physician, Educator, and Founder of Durham's Black Wall Street, as she talks about writing this biography of her great-great-grandfather.

Ms. Hill-Saya will be interviewed by Monique Thomas, Program Coordinator in the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity.

About the Author

Blake Hill-Saya
Blake Hill-Saya Credit: Dylan J. Serbia

Blake Hill-Saya is a classical musician and creative writer living in Los Angeles. Born the biracial child of two literature professors, her love affair with books began at age four when her father found her reading one to herself out loud and upside down. She is the CEO of Tenacity Communications in Los Angeles.

About the Book

Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863–1923) was born in rural Columbus County in eastern North Carolina at the close of the Civil War. Defying the odds stacked against an African American of this era, he pursued an education, alternating between work on the family farm and attending school. Moore originally dreamed of becoming an educator and attended notable teacher training schools in the state. But later, while at Shaw University, he followed another passion and entered Leonard Medical School. Dr. Moore graduated with honors in 1888 and became the first practicing African American physician in the city of Durham, North Carolina. He went on to establish the Durham Drug Company and the Durham Colored Library; spearhead and run Lincoln Hospital, the city's first secular, freestanding African American hospital; cofound North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; help launch Rosenwald schools for African American children statewide; and foster the development of Durham's Hayti community.

Dr. Moore was one-third of the mighty "Triumvirate" alongside John Merrick and C. C. Spaulding, credited with establishing Durham as the capital of the African American middle class in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and founding Durham's famed Black Wall Street. His legacy can still be seen on the city streets and country backroads today, and an examination of his life provides key insights into the history of Durham, the state, and the nation during Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow Era.

About the Interviewer

Monique Thomas
Monique Thomas Credit: Caltech

Monique Thomas serves as Program Coordinator in Caltech's Center for Inclusion and Diversity.

About the Series

Behind the Book is a new series from Caltech Public Programming. Join us in conversation with authors who explore the intersection of arts, science, and society through the lens of their family histories.

Upcoming authors in the series include:

  • Cindy Weinstein, author of the upcoming book Finding the Right Words: Alzheimer's, Literature, Science.
    Dr. Weinsteins serves as Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of English, Vice Provost, and Chief Diversity Officer at Caltech.
  • Indre Viskontas, author of How Music Can Make You Better.

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The Behind the Book series is presented with assistance from our marketing partner Vroman's Bookstore, the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California.

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