In March 2010, tragedy struck then Murray State student Galileo Simmons and her four brothers Picasso, Luciano, Michael and Gauguin.
With the news of Freeda Simmons-McMillan’s death in a vehicle accident, the Simmons family continued moving on knowing it is what their mother would want.
In an effort to finish a nearly life long project her mother started years before her death, Galileo has been working for the past two years to get Simmons-McMillan’s books published.
“(Mom) said that she felt like God had led her to write this and so she spent half of her life writing and when she finished writing the last story, it was really crazy because she died,” Galileo said. “When I was about 14 years old, my mom said that God had also (told her) that I would publish a book in my lifetime – actually several books – and not worry about having to write them.”
The series, “Black & White in a Multi-Colored America,” is separated into three volumes. Each depicts true stories and illustrations by Simmons-McMillan about understanding acceptance and equality, regardless of one’s race.
The excerpt on the back cover of the first book reads, “While we will each possess our own individual dreams, hopes, fears and insecurities, it is hopeful that – above all – we will recognize the presence and plan of God within each of our lives.”
The project was originally one book, but, due to costs readers would have to pay for the book, Galileo decided to create additional volumes.
“I could not publish a book that people would not be able to afford by making it just one, so I split it up into three,” she said.
There are currently four versions of the books: hardcover in color, black-and-white and softcover in color or black and white.
Anyone reading the books does not necessarily have to read them from the beginning to the end either, Galileo said.
This gives them a more personal feel and makes them slightly different from the average straight-through read.
“The books are set up into stories and chapters like ‘Chicken Soup,’” she said. “You can start from the middle or the back of the book – you don’t have to read it from cover to cover to understand it or get anything out of it.”
While writing the stories and drawing the illustrations took a long time to complete, getting the books published and out for retail was also a long process, Galileo said.
“I really didn’t have any direction, especially when (Mom) was gone,” she said. “A lot of it was just me being creative and saying ‘Okay, how would she want this?’ and ‘Let me see what I can do.’”
To complete the difficult task of getting the books published, Galileo had to gather all of the materials for the books, edit the writing, contact a publishing company and make final decisions with her family.
“My brothers knew everything that was happening (through the process),” she said. “I would go to them and, before I would make a decision, I asked them about it. They were very supportive. If I ever doubted something, I would go to them and they were great at confirming things.”
The first volume of the series is currently available for purchase online and is set to be out in book stands by the end of the year, Galileo said.
It can be bought through its publishing company West Bow Press, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The remaining two books will be released in 2013, though no release date has been announced.
“Basically, I have done everything possible for this to be a book,” Galileo said. “Now everything that she dreamed of actually happened. I didn’t write it, but I published it.”
Where to Buy
Amazon Softcover $39.38
Barnes and Noble Softcover $38.98
West Bow Press Hardcover $30.95 Softcover $13.95 E-book $3.99
Story by Anna Taylor, Features Editor.