HomeLibraryLibrary EducationQ&A with Kelly McWilliams, author of Your Planation Prom Is Not Okay

Q&A with Kelly McWilliams, author of Your Planation Prom Is Not Okay

Q: What inspired you to write this novel?

Kelly McWilliams: Periodically, a celebrity of some kind gets married on a plantation. It hits the news, people express outrage, an apology is or is not made…and then somehow we all forget about it and the cycle starts over again. From the perspective of a novelist, that’s both fascinating and horrifying. Grown adults continue to disrespect historical sites and worse, some schools in the South still host proms at old plantations, perpetuating that culture.  When someone pretends that a plantation is about love and good old-fashioned family values, it keeps us on very different wavelengths. For me, as an often white-presenting person, I’ve been running smack into that other wavelength my whole life. No matter our race, we all need to grieve the legacy of slavery to move forward.

Q: Tell us about the research involved in writing Your Plantation Prom is Not Okay.

KM: I visited the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, because it’s famously one of the only plantations in the South that tells the history of slavery from the perspective of the enslaved.  I wanted to see their statues and memorials in person, and read the writing on their tombstones and plaques. It’s incredibly powerful to be in a place so committed to telling the truth. The Whitney Plantation very much inspired the museum in the book.