An Author Amongst Us

Following one Stuyvesant student’s ambition to make her community better.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Junior Agatha Edwards recently created a GoFundMe page that has garnered the attention of 73 donors and received $1,700 in donations. With the numbers steadily climbing, her goal to supply important educational material to disadvantaged children is coming to fruition.

This fundraiser is part of Edwards’s campaign to celebrate Black History Month in February 2020. Bearing the title “3,000 Free African-American History Books for Kids,” Edwards’s page discusses the free distribution of her biographical book as part of a plan to engage and teach more New York children the importance of African American history.

Her work, titled “The 100 Most Important African Americans,” is a collection of detailed biographical pages each describing an influential African American figure. Complete with historical backgrounds, roles, and time periods, the publication includes individuals such as Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama, and Ida B. Wells. Furnished with facts and easy to digest information, it will be distributed to children in Brownsville, Brooklyn—one of the more underprivileged areas in Edwards's borough.

“The 100 Most Important African Americans,” however, isn't the only book Edwards has written. Her love for book-writing first began in middle school. As Edwards recalled, “In fourth grade, I was to write a fiction book. Not a real book, but a short story project. I really enjoyed doing that project, and so I wanted to continue it. I wrote it into a full book with chapters.” Having edited and published her first novel, Edwards, with the help of her father, soon brought up the idea of writing nonfiction. “I already wrote three fiction books, so we thought that was kind of a trilogy, so we thought we could do a trilogy for nonfiction too," Edwards said. “We came up with the idea of the ‘100 most important [blank]’ and we’ve written three of those.” As an experienced writer with two other similar books (“The 100 Most Important American Women” and “The 100 Most Important New Yorkers”), Edwards delved into her process for writing and publishing.

Edwards described her book writing process in multiple stages. “For writing, I did the first draft, and then [my dad] edited it—he didn’t change my writing but suggested new ideas. I rewrote some things, and then we had a second draft, mainly editing for errors and typos,” Edwards explained. Publishing was one of her main obstacles, and she acknowledged and appreciated the help she received from others. “For the nonfiction ones, we had a person who would deal with the format of the book [...] we would send the material over, and then he would format in a specific way so that every page was the same. So that was really helpful,” she added.

It was after the completion of her African American biographical work that Edwards decided to create her fundraiser. “We wanted to do something with [the book] and bring some benefit from it. We thought about how to benefit New York City, specifically in Brooklyn, where I live, and Dad knew about the neighborhood Brownsville in Brooklyn,” Edwards stated.
“[Brownsville] is mostly African American, so we thought we could expose the kids to the book and maybe they could get some benefit out of it, or become inspired.”

Looking back, Edwards did regret some aspects of her previous projects. In terms of publicity, she stated, "Maybe trying to get them to a wider audience—when we wrote them, we didn’t really try to get it places. We kind of just told everyone about it and sent it to relatives—but maybe with this one, we could have done something similar: try to get more publicity about it.” In light of this, Edwards offered some advice to new and upcoming writers. "You should just go for it—anyone can write a book,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t matter what it’s about, doesn’t matter whether people like it. If you like it, some other people will probably like it too. So I would say just write your heart out. Just do it.”