First African American woman to write history of Margaret Garner to visit Main Library

Ohio native and Howard University professor Dr. Nikki M. Taylor is sharing the story of runaway slave Margaret Garner as told in her book Driven Toward Madness: The Fugitive Slave Margaret Garner and Tragedy on the Ohio 3 p.m., Saturday, April 8 at the Main Library, 800 Vine St., Downtown Cincinnati. Hear Taylors’s brilliant account of how a murdering mother transformed into an icon of tragedy and resistance.

About the book

Margaret Garner was the runaway slave who, when confronted with capture just outside of Cincinnati, slit the throat of her toddler daughter rather than have her face a life in slavery. Her story has inspired Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a film based on the novel starring Oprah Winfrey, and an opera. Yet, her life has defied solid historical treatment.

Taylor, the first African American woman to write a history of Garner, grounds her approach in black feminist theory. She melds history with trauma studies to account for shortcomings in the written record. In so doing, she rejects distortions and fictionalized images; probes slavery’s legacies of sexual and physical violence and psychic trauma in new ways; and finally fleshes out a figure who had been rendered an apparition.

A book signing follows Taylor’s talk. Books are available for purchase courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers. This program is made possible by the Library Programs Fund.

More about the author

Dr. Nikki M. Taylor, who is from Ohio, graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a history degree and was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship that allowed her to study African history in Ghana. She attended Duke University where she earned a M.A. and Ph.D., in U.S. and African American History. Taylor is currently a professor of African American history at Howard University. Her other books include Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati’s Black Community, 1802–1868 and America’s First Black Socialist: The Radical Life of Peter H. Clark.

For more information about Taylor’s visit, call 513-369-6900 or visit