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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Black Attorney/Author Reimagines Reconstruction in New Book, “Deo Vindice: The Resurrection”

— New novel by Michael A. Jefferson reimagines the President Andrew Johnson era and Benjamin “Bluff” Wade, who would have become president if Johnson was impeached. Wade, was known for publicly saying that Blacks or ex-slaves should arm themselves for their own protection. Jefferson’s story asks and answers the question, “What would have happened if Benjamin Wade became President during reconstruction?” —

Michael A. Jefferson, author and attorney

Attorney and author Michael A. Jefferson, and his new book, “Deo Vindice: The Resurrection”

New Haven, CT — It’s traditional in black literature to rewrite history, and author Michael A. Jefferson did just that when he penned his book of historical fiction entitled Deo Vindice: The Resurrection (Watch the book trailer on YouTube). “There are trailblazers and contemporary writers that have done this,” said New Haven native Catina Bacote, a creative writing professor at Warren Wilson College in Ashville, North Carolina.

“What I respect about Michael A. Jefferson’s work is he’s using both history and the imagination in an effort to reimagine the past, (and) I believe the past impacts the present and what happens in the future,” said Bacote.

“This type of work is respected and most people seem to respond well to it; it has a place and lots of value.”

Deo Vindice: The Resurrection is about one man’s obsession to right the wrongs of a horrible racial injustice by empowering its victims to take matters into their own hands, according to www.deovindicethebook.com

The book takes the reader back to the year 1868, when Benjamin “Bluff” Wade is president pro tempore of the United States Senate. After the impeachment and subsequent conviction of President Andrew Johnson, Wade assumes the presidency due to a never-before-used constitutional quirk.

Jefferson said the idea of the book came from a response to a question asked while he was taking a civil rights course in law school.

“The professor at the time posed the question ‘If you were president at the time of reconstruction what would you do differently?’” said Jefferson, 51, a New Haven criminal defense attorney.

“We had to write about this, and one of the things I talked about was arming blacks or the ex-slaves to protect their interest, which I thought was incredibly important,” he said.

Jefferson said the reason he treats Wade as a hero in the novel is because he empowers the ex-slaves to take matters into their own hands.

“This is not about white soldiers coming to the rescue of black people; this is about an armed struggle led by black people against a ferocious enemy determined to maintain the status quo,” he said.

According to the book, Wade is determined to implement his newly drafted Fifth Reconstruction Act. This Act authorizes widespread reform in the social, political and economic life of citizens in the former Confederacy. This sweeping act also approves the militarization of blacks living in those states, the website said.

For too long, Jefferson said, “Others have been writing our story, both fictional and nonfictional; I wanted to provide a black perspective.” The book also is an opportunity to challenge certain aspects of black culture, according to Jefferson.

“It was important for me to challenge the existing norms in our community,” Jefferson adds. “I wanted to challenge the standards of beauty and homophobia in our community; these are the essential elements of the book.”

Attorney Robert Pellegrino said Jefferson’s book is an incredible melding of American history and race.

As historical fiction, it is a fascinating account of what America could have become had blacks come into power after the Civil War, said Pellegrino, 58, who recently published a book called I See Color, which documents his journey educating himself on the issue of race — from personal relationships and experiences.

“Jefferson’s vast knowledge of both American history and race relations provides a provocative story that both teaches and engages the reader — and one comes away with a greater knowledge of American history and a deeper understanding of the role of race in that history.”

Other characters in the book are Lisa Stewart, an exceptionally brilliant and strikingly beautiful change agent, and Aurelius Foginet, an unassuming military and political genius.

With Stewart at his side, the powerful and determined black duo, along with a black political organizer, Randall McArthur, and the elite troops of the feared southern guard attempt to establish a safe haven for blacks in the former Confederacy, according to the book.

While Jefferson was inspired to rewrite history, he’ll use some of the book’s proceeds as a philanthropic effort to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the state’s NAACP Youth and College Division and undergraduate chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

“Since I’ve been in the fraternity, I haven’t seen an officer or district representative do something like this on such a big scale,” said Anthony Kadri of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Kadri, who has been in the fraternity since 2010, said Jefferson’s efforts are huge for undergraduate chapters. “It shows he really cares for the undergraduates and the youth in the fraternity,” he said. “Our hope is that other Omega men who have books would follow his lead or do something similar.”

Jefferson is a life member of the fraternity, a charter member of Epsilon Iota Iota chapter and serves on the supreme council as a district representative. He’s also the founder of the Kiyama Movement, focusing on self-improvement, particularly among black men.

State Conference NAACP Youth and College Division adviser Karrol-Ann Brown said Jefferson has always been a philanthropist. “It’s very hard for us at times to raise funds as a state (organization); it’s great for someone like attorney Jefferson to make a financial commitment to our young people,” said Brown, a lawyer. “He’s been very supportive of our unit and has been a role model for our young people,” she added.

Although the book serves as alternate history, Jefferson believes high school and college students can learn valuable lessons.

“There are a lot of real characters mentioned in the story,” said Jefferson. “I footnoted those individuals, so the reader has an understanding of what’s real and what’s fiction.”

Deo Vindice: The Resurrectionis available on Kindle for $7.99 and $16.99 in paperback at www.deovindicethebook.com.

Jefferson is available for book signings and speaking engagements.

Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Deo-Vindice-1130829873594724/

Watch the book trailer below:


Shahid Abdul-Karim
(203) 605 3844