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Blue Bicycle Books Charleston Author Series

Join us Friday, June 23 at noon for Blue Bicycle Books Charleston Author Series luncheon at High Cotton, as we welcome bestselling author Cate Lineberry for a discussion of her latest book, “Be Free or Die.”

“A stunning tale of a little-known figure in history. Robert Smalls’ astounding heroism during the Civil War helped convince Lincoln and the country that African Americans were extraordinarily capable of fighting for their freedom,” wrote Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Professor in American History at Harvard University and Executive Producer of Finding Your Roots.

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It was a mild May morning in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1862, the second year of the Civil War, when a twenty-three-year-old enslaved man named Robert Smalls boldly seized a Confederate steamer.

With his wife and two young children hidden onboard, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of heavily armed fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the valuable vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces.

Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero. It also challenged much of the country’s view of what African Americans were willing to do for their freedom.

In Be Free or Die, Cate Lineberry tells the remarkable story of Smalls’ escape and his many accomplishments during the war, including becoming the first black captain of an Army vessel. In a particularly poignant moment, Smalls even bought the home that he and his mother had once served in as house slaves.

Be Free or Die is a compelling narrative that illuminates Robert Smalls’ amazing journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman. It also gives fascinating insight and knowledge into the country’s first efforts to help newly freed slaves while also illustrating the many struggles and achievements of African Americans during the war.


Be Free or Die is Cate Lineberry’s second book. Cate is a journalist and the author of The Secret Rescue, a No. 1 Wall Street Journal e-book bestseller and a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards.

Lineberry was previously a staff writer and editor for National Geographic and the web editor for Smithsonian Magazine. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

  Michael Boulware Moore, CEO of the International African American Museum will participate in the conversation, an interview format led by Emmy Award Winning Journalist Pamela Graham Anderson. Moore is the great, great grandson of Robert Smalls and CEO of the International African American Museum.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and lunch is served at noon. Limited seating provides an intimate experience with the author. There is a cash bar for your enjoyment.

High Cotton is located at 199 East Bay Street, where the luncheon and discussion will take place. Parking is available at the Cumberland Street Garage, other municipal lots or at meters on the street.

June 23, 2017, 11:30am

Location: 199 East Bay Street