Paul Revere Redux
On the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, activist-artist Bob Tomolillo ’74 has replicated Paul Revere’s famous 1770 copper engraving—with one significant change. The scene now includes Crispus Attucks, the Black man historians believe was the first person to die in the American Revolution.
“This is revisionist history,” Tomolillo says of his piece, Boston Massacre plate engraving with Crispus Attucks. He notes that Revere’s original engraving did not portray Attucks. “A lot of history is written from a personal standpoint, and so the more voices we have that can tell the true story, I think, we are better off as a society.”
‘To Tell a Story Is Empowering’
Natasha Trethewey ’95MFA, two-time U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, released her latest book, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, earlier this year. The book recounts her mother’s murder at the hands of an ex-husband and the ways that trauma shaped Trethewey’s life. She acknowledges her mother as “the reason that I am a writer,” and said in an interview with PBS, “We all tell ourselves stories about our lives, whether we’re writers or not. That’s the way that we give meaning and purpose and shape to what seems chaotic, random. Being able to do that, to tell a story, to tell one’s own story, I think, is empowering.”
Watch Natasha Trethewey’s full interview with PBS.
The debut novel from Gabriel Bump ’17MFA, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, has been called “astute and touching” by Publishers Weekly. The novel, most of which was completed during Bump’s time at UMass, tells the story of a young Black man coming of age on the South Side of Chicago. Though the book is fiction, Bump takes inspiration from his own life and says, “I wanted to tell this story because I felt like Claude [the main character] and I come from a misunderstood place. It’s not necessarily that I wanted to show that part of the world in gritty realness, but I wanted to have magic and funny aspects. I wanted to find a balance.”
In November, Bump’s novel was named winner of the 2020 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, a $15,00 prize recognizing outstanding work from promising African American fiction writers.
Championship Coaches Retire
Two beloved UMass coaches—who led their teams to numerous championships and nurtured athletes for success in and outside of their sports—recently retired.
George Epstein has had not one, but two successful careers. He retired from his first calling in 1991 as an accomplished engineer in the aerospace industry. His second calling is poker—he is now writing his fourth book about it.
Irma McClaurin ’76MFA, ’89MA, ’93PhD is assembling a robust collection of papers and ephemera of Black feminists for the archive that bears her name and resides at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. This year McClaurin was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research to help expand the archive.
Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier, an award-winning exhibition developer, curator, and writer, had more interesting information about the storied Henry Street Settlement House in New York City than she could fit in the exhibition she was planning. So, she captured the story in a highly acclaimed book, The House on Henry Street: The Enduring Life of a Lower East Side Settlement, featuring a foreword by Bill Clinton.
Philip Schinman is a painting contractor extraordinaire who has worked on some of the famous Painted Ladies of Alamo Square in San Francisco. One of Schinman’s latest projects was featured in Dwell magazine. And no wonder: He used nearly 400 gallons of paint and took 2 1/2 months to cover a stairwell with 17 coats of a perfect, electrifying blue.
William R. Li, accomplished publishing, branding, and business development executive, now taps into his childhood lessons about the power of sharing meals for his latest venture. He is co-host and co-producer of Lucky Chow, a PBS series that salutes Asian Americans by making food a centerpiece of each episode.
Lara Herscovitch, a songwriter, performer, and former Connecticut State Troubadour, continues to impress fans and critics with the power of her voice and verses. Her latest album, Highway Philosophers, has “big-hearted lyrics that embrace the sum of life, sour to sweet,” wrote one reviewer.
Joe Maruca co-founded TRE Olive, a family-run firm that produces award-winning olive oil from its groves in Italy. Maruca says traditional methods and lots of love produced the oil that won gold and silver prizes at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.
Erin McDermott was appointed athletic director at Harvard, the first woman to lead the largest varsity sports program in the country. Her appointment came with high praise from Harvard officials: “Erin knows better than anyone the power of a strong community united by common values.”
Caroline DuBois, a poet and author, wrote her first novel in narrative verse. The Places We Sleep is a coming-of-age story set during the tumult of 9/11. DuBois is also an educator, and in 2016 was named the Nashville Blue Ribbon Teacher for her commitment to students and her excellence in teaching adolescents.
Emily Amico drew her inspiration to become a nurse from being hospitalized as a child. She is now a public health nurse for the town of Southborough, Massachusetts, where she is on the front lines of COVID-19 prevention efforts.
Hope Zelinger, a former top lacrosse player at UMass, scored big in another arena: She is the first woman and the youngest lawyer to be named managing principal of the Miami office of Bressler, Amery & Ross, a national firm.
Leigh Whiting-Jones switched career gears, from working for social justice organizations to teaching in public schools. She is now the principal of Pelham Elementary School in Massachusetts.
Sean P. Sullivan, an investigative reporter for NJ Advance Media—along with lawyers from the Last Resort Exoneration Project—helped expose the wrongful conviction of two Black men in Camden, New Jersey. The men were freed this year after spending 25 years in prison. Sullivan’s first newspaper job was with the Massachusetts Daily Collegian as a student.
Mallory Ottariano invested in a $100 sewing machine to start an Etsy shop out of her parents’ basement the day she graduated with a fine arts degree. Today she is CEO of Kind Apparel—a company based in Missoula, Montana, that designs and sells clothes made out of recycled materials, many printed with her own graphic designs.
Kevin Drew was appointed to the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council, a volunteer community organization that helps improve the quality of life for residents of Boston’s North End/Waterfront area by advising the city on issues from land use and clean streets to food and beverage licenses.