HMM: How old were you when you knew this was your calling and what you were going to do for the rest of your life?
RG: I must have been in my mid 20’s when I first saw (Alex Haley’s “Roots” and the scene where the African father takes his newborn child away from the village at night, holds it up to the sky) and says “Behold the only thing greater than myself” this moved me to start looking for my own roots and doing my own genealogical research. I happen to find a picture of my great grandfather, Harrison Gore’s and from then on, I went to the local library here in Detroit Michigan and started doing genealogical research which took me on this journey.
HMM: What is it about this that makes you do what you do?
RG: The reason I talked about this particular place and time is that it is very valuable to the self-esteem of the history that relates to the
African-American. First, it gives them a sense of their foundation and understanding of where you came from which we have a lack to fulfill in learning the African culture of our ancestors especially within the curriculum of the American public-school systems. My goal is to affirm the African American literary works and increase the literacy level within the urban black community.
HMM: What is the one dream for yourself you most look forward to having come true?
RG: Wow. I think as I get older, I would like to have dual citizenship. I’d like to live in Africa and in the United States. I would like to spend some time in the Motherland and have a place where my children and grandchildren can truly call home.
HMM: How hard was it breaking into the business? We hear stories all the time of people who try for years and never make it, and then other stories of overnight “in the right place at the right time” sensations.
RG: Well for me it was a long process at least 4-5 years of research on my own genealogical background, my own roots. Tracing my family from Georgia then to 17th century South Carolina (and eventually Senegal West Africa) . When I first discovered some of the first maps that were ever drawn of Africa and I was fascinated by the colorful illustrations—Beautiful watercolor illustrations of people of different ethnic backgrounds dating as far back to the early 15th century. Now that was a time of maritime exploration before you can catch navigational maps were made. During my research in a large coffee table book in the public library with the word Africa embossed on the cover I found a map of an island with the same name as my last name, it was written in French “ isle de Gore’e” off the coast Senegal of west Africa. Still, it was hard to get published after extensive writing and completion of a manuscript because no one, or at least not many people that I knew didn’t really know anything about Gore’e island. Which was known by some as “The Door of No Return” for African natives that were cast into slavery. Publishers black or white were hesitant to even take a look at my material. Finally, I found a small publishing company that recognizes my efforts and the first edition of my book “Goree Island: Island of no return” February of 1997. I’ll never forget when my book was published in February of 1997. The very next month, the First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton stood at that Door of No Return on Goree Island was a profile on the front page of every major newspaper in the United States. That’s when l knew It was meant to be.
HMM: How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise very competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry, as a business at times can be cutthroat?
RG: Well, I have learned a lot through the years about the publishing industry. I’m still learning. This is an ongoing process. I’m on my3rd edition of my novel. The title has changed to, “Signare’s: The Women of Goree Island”. What I have done was I included over 25 vintage illustrations sharing the history of the evolution of a unique community of mulatto women called Signares’ on the island. The unique history of this island is that there were no occupants before the Portuguese sailors came exploring during the 1400s. These Portuguese men intermingled themselves with the African women to gain access to vast trading routes from East Africa across the Sahara desert to the West African coast. This interracial union begot a mulatto child. Now many times the African woman and the mulatto child were left on the island to survive on their own and after time a community of mulattos grew on the island and became the primary factor that Europeans have to deal with for trading and transportation.Gore’e, the island itself changed hands at different times. From the Portuguese to the Dutch, to
the English and to the French.
THE GREATEST INFLUENCE UPON MY LIFE HAS BEEN MY FAMILY.
My heart goes out to those who don’t have any type of insight on their culture and the reason I wrote this book was to encourage you and to give you a positive outlook on who you really are and where you came from.