Dr. Eric J. Chambers
(Hollywood, CA) When 4-time Emmy Award winner Dr. Eric J. Chambers penned his book Dining With The Ancestors: When Heroes Come To Dinner, he asked one question. “If you could have dinner with anyone from our illustrious Black History past, who would it be and what would you want to talk to them about?”
That is the question more than 200 African-American entertainers, professional athletes and notables have answered including Gladys Knight, Ne-Yo, Tyrese, Bishop TD Jakes, Yolanda Adams, Sheryl Underwood, Taraji P. Henson, Israel Houghton, Colin Kaepernick, Lolo Jones, John Wall, Donnie McClurkin, Charlie Wilson, India Arie, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Cedric The Entertainer.
Chambers, a Hollywood red carpet reporter, is turning the question and answers into a new coffee table Black History literacy picture book called Dining With The Ancestors: When Heroes Come To Dinner.
A fundraising campaign is underway at www.DiningWithTheAncestors.com and heʼs calling on as many people as possible to contribute, including sponsors. Visit the site to see a video trailer with sample answers, and be inspired.
Chambers first asked the question in 2004 while interviewing his late friend, Yolanda King, the eldest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, his wife. Yolanda sang the praises of her own mother during the interview that aired on Chambersʼ Jazzspel TV show that aired nationally on The Word Network. Now his show is airing on the CUT Network (Chambers Urban TV Network). It was then the idea of a book was born.
While looking at pictures of him at dinner with Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley, his own hero and “surrogate grandmother,” and the mother of Emmett Louis Till, the civil rights icon, the idea of dinner with heroes was reborn. He began asking the question again, this time on the red carpets of Hollywood. “What a great question! What a great concept for a book!” exclaimed pop star Brandy. Said rap star Kendrick Lamar, “Thatʼs a good one.” He learned one of the superstars is a cousin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while another would have OJ Simpson as a dinner guest. Find out the answers in the book.
“This is such a unique way to teach Black History,” said Professor Alazar Tesfamariam, the Black Studies Department Chair at Chambersʼ alma mater, San Diego City College in San Diego, CA. “Iʼve never seen anything like it. This is going to be a one-of-a-kind, fun way to learn about Black History heroes, past and present,” said Tesfamariam, who Chambers credits as his Black History mentor.
The book, an imprint of his Who Dat? Publishing venture, is slated for release on December 10, 2014 at a celebrity gala in Hollywood. He is also offering fans a unique opportunity to win dinner with him and a celebrity or two. He plans a book tour, visiting elementary and high schools, community colleges, HBCUs, state universities and Ivy League schools. And he plans to bring along celebrity heroes to some events.
A portion of the proceeds will go to The Harvest Of My Dreams Foundationʼs History Literacy Program that will teach and inspire African-American youth and young adults, as well as offer scholarships for higher learning.