The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 28, 2000
February 28, 2000
VOL. 29, NO. 24


Edward Ball, Author of 'Slaves in the Family,' To Give Kent Lecture

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Journalist Edward Ball, 1998 National Book Award winner for Slaves in the Family, will deliver the Frank R. Kent Memorial Lecture on Thursday, March 30.

Ball, a seventh-generation grandson of slave owner Elias Ball, said he wrote his award-winning book "to get some common ground between white folks and black folks on the subject of slavery." Combining history with his own journey of self-discovery, Ball depicts violence and opulence, dynastic struggles and slave uprisings, heroism and shame. His is a story of interwoven lives and a man's effort to come to terms with his disturbing family legacy and the nation's past.

Prior to writing Slaves in the Family, Ball recorded, wrote and narrated The Other History, a 35-minute documentary for National Public Radio about the legacy of the plantations once owned by the Balls. It won the Society of Professional Journalists' Best Radio Feature award for 1994.

Ball began his career in 1984 as a freelance journalist, writing on film, art and architecture, and became a Village Voice columnist in 1990. He is working on a second book, the multigenerational saga of an elite black family to which he is related.

The Frank R. Kent Memorial Lecture honors a Baltimore journalist who served The Sun for nearly 60 years, 10 of them as managing editor. One of the country's first daily political columnists, Kent was renowned for witty and insightful commentary on national political issues. His syndicated column appeared in more than 100 newspapers. Kent retired in 1947 and died in 1958.

The Frank R. Kent Memorial Lecture began in 1965 with The New York Times' James Reston. Past lecturers include Frank Rich, New York Times columnist; Ben Bradlee, former Washington Post editor in chief; Marvin Kalb, Edward R. Murrow Professor of Press and Public Policy at Harvard; and David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 8 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium, Homewood campus. For more information, call 410-516-7157.