In Service to Underrepresented Voices: Tracy Sherrod '92
In Service to Underrepresented Voices: Tracy Sherrod '92June 1, 2022
With her MSU graduation approaching in 1992, Tracy Sherrod stumbled to answer a seemingly simple question from her college roommate, the now-Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes (’88).
“What are you going to do after graduation?” Hoopes asked.
Sherrod, a Justice, Morality and Constitutional Democracy major at James Madison College, shrugged. MSU, she said, had been such a joy of reading, writing and exploration that she hadn’t much considered the future.
Then, Sherrod looked down. Her future, it turns out, sat in her hands.
Holding a book published by the New York City-based Feminist Press, Sherrod called a phone number listed inside the book’s cover and inquired about job opportunities. Weeks later, Sherrod left for Manhattan, taking her first step into a now-30-year career in book publishing and showcasing diverse voices.
After two decades with publishing heavyweights like Henry Holt and Simon & Schuster, Sherrod joined Amistad, a division of HarperCollins, in 2013. The nation’s oldest imprint devoted to books by Black authors, Amistad’s catalog boasts titles from some of the nation’s most influential Black voices, including Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones, National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and legendary Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston. Sherrod is currently the Vice President and Executive Editor at Little, Brown.
“It’s important to provide writers of color a platform and opportunity to share their stories according to their preference,” said Sherrod. “Adding diverse voices to literature is our gift to the world.”
Over the past ten years, Sherrod has introduced some of the most powerful works by Black authors: “Spectacle” by Pamela Newkirk, which details Congolese native Ota Benga’s abduction to the U.S. and placement in a zoo monkey house; “Make Good the Promises,” a collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture examining post-Civil War Reconstruction; and trailblazing actress Cicely Tyson’s recent memoir, “Just as I Am.”
“This work is important because of
the stories it empowers people to tell, the freedom it allows for honest expression and the insights it gives into American history and systemic racism,” Sherrod said.
Spring 2022 titles such as “Miss Chloe” by A.J. Verdelle, a memoir of the author’s literary friendship with Toni Morrison, as well as “Where the Children Take Us” by Zain E. Asher, a study highlighting Nigerians’ rise as the new model minority, build upon Amistad’s enterprising tradition.
“These stories might not otherwise be told,” Sherrod said, “and there’s still plenty of truth to be shared.”