Photo credit: Jonathan Cohen
Bailey is committed to a concept of “living history” in which events of the past are connected to current and contemporary issues. She is also concerned with the reconciliation of communities after age old conflicts like slavery, war and genocide. Her non-fiction book, African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Beyond the Silence and the Shame (Beacon Press) and her current work, The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History, (just published, Cambridge University Press, 2017) reflect that commitment.
Bailey takes readers on a journey that spans many countries and several continents. Born in Jamaica to William and Daphne Bailey, her work has been informed by extended stays in Paris, London, and West Africa. After immigrating to New York City where she attended high school, she studied English and French at Harvard University and later got her Ph.D. in African and African American History and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Recipient of the Fulbright and Coro Foundation awards, Bailey is also deeply committed public history and historical preservation. In her research, writing and public speaking, she highlights the lives and contributions of enslaved people of African descent in the Americas and around the world including her March 2013 intervention at the United Nations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Influenced by writers as diverse as Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, W.E. B. Dubois, Alex Haley, and C.S. Lewis, Bailey aims to combine an accessible writing style and a global perspective with a knowledge of history. In her spare time, she champions environmental and sustainable development causes in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Bailey lives in upstate New York with her son and baseball enthusiast, Mickias Joseph.