April Ryan • Release Date: Feb. 15, 2015


April Ryan is a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN).  She is the only Black woman covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held since the Clinton era. April is a frequent speaker on the topics of the White House, Presidency, Race and Politics.

What was the impetus for writing this book?

The impetus for writing “The Presidency in Black and White” was my having been an eyewitness to history. My first year as White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, a friend strongly urged me to tell the stories in the book. He said, “You could not observe this history and not write a book.” He encouraged me to consistently “journal” what I saw each day. Those notes were typed into my computer, and ultimately became chapters in this book.

What surprised you about the writing process?

What surprised me most about writing this book is how much time I actually obtained for on-the-record conversations with the world leaders who shape policy. When you are in it, you really are not aware of the magnitude of what is happening at the time. I am overjoyed at the leaders who went on the record on the subject of race. But, there is another side. Some former power brokers strategically chose not to allow me to use their quotes for fear of political retaliation.

What are you most proud of?

What I am most proud of in this book is that many, including U.S. presidents, decided to go on the record on matters of race. This book shows sources standing by their comments. These quotes include presidents, secretaries of state, former press secretaries, other politicians, civil rights icons, clergy and entertainers.

What do you want the reader to learn?

I want the reader to learn that issues of race have been front and center at the White House, even though there is not as much media coverage by the mainstream. I want the reader to also glean that issues of race will continue to dominate the political landscape at the highest levels as the country continues to “brown.” It is important to understand that all of us have a right to be at the table when decisions are made that impact our community and the greater communities at large.

What have you learned from the writing process? 

I learned that I had woefully underestimated the task of writing a book. This book is full of news, but it took 17 years to compile. It is a demanding process: from writing to “shopping” the book to getting the contract to making the deadlines to book promotion. There were times I did not think it would happen.   The book went through numerous title and chapter changes and other edits. It finally resulted in The Presidency in Black and White. When we first shopped it during the Clinton years, it was an entirely different book that was turned down. We had a bite from another publishing house in the George W. Bush years, but my potential editor was fired.  So we were back to the drawing board. But, all it takes is one company to see the value of your story, and the book found its home with Rowman and Littlefield years later as a much better read. The book contract was signed before the events in Ferguson, and is being released when race is one of the driving issues after Ferguson, New York, Cleveland and beyond.

Join April Ryan for book signings, 6 p.m., Feb. 4 at Morgan State University and 6:30 p.m., Feb. 5 at Enoch Pratt Library on Cathedral Street in downtown Baltimore.