This is a subscriber-exclusive edition of Unsettled Territory, a newsletter about culture, law, history, and finding meaning in the mundane. Sign up for the newsletter here, and subscribe to The Atlantic for access to more exclusives like this.

A week and a half ago, I spoke to one of the most important interlocutors I consulted while writing South to America, Dr. Walter O. Evans. He’s known as both a surgeon and a collector of African American art and artifacts. Dr. Evans offered me an important correction that I assured him I will fix in later printings (I misstated that his marriage to Linda Evans was a second marriage for both, but it was only her first). I accepted it humbly, in addition to being relieved and joyful about his appreciation of the book. He shared with me some photographs related to the material in the book, of writer Albert Murray and painter Romare Bearden. I was thrilled at his approval. But most importantly, I was reminded why people like Dr. Evans were so essential to this book, and remain so influential to me as someone who cares about how the past bears on the present.

To read the rest, subscribe to The Atlantic.

Already a subscriber? Sign in