About the Author
Deric Gilliard, who was born in Atlanta to the parents of a young military couple, remembers his first civil rights experience while driving across the country with his father,
Spencer Lee Gilliard, who used to take him out of school three weeks early every spring so the two could travel together. Riding through parts of the deep South, including Alabama, Gilliard recalls he and his father – the only black member of the U.S. Army’s pistol marksmanship team – being repeatedly threatened and harassed by police and state troopers during the mid-sixties. Gilliard also recalls riding trains for long distances with his mother through the deep South in the early 1960s and being unable to occupy a seat because they were all reserved for white passengers.
Later, after graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, then attending graduate school at Wichita State University, Gilliard wrote for a year at a large daily paper in the Midwest. He returned to his hometown in 1979, when he covered social issues, city hall and the Atlanta missing and murdered cases for the Atlanta Daily World, the nation’s oldest black daily newspaper.
He went onto write for Time Magazine and spent a decade as a correspondent for USA Today newspaper, before moving into public relations. After working for five years in public affairs for predominately black colleges in Georgia, Gilliard went to work as national communications director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1957.
While at the SCLC, at that time the nation’s foremost grass-roots civil rights organization, Gilliard was afforded the opportunity to work with and get to know many of the legends in the civil rights community, including Rev. Andy Young, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Dick Gregory and many others.
Working under the leadership of SCLC President Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, who carved out a reputation as the “Dean” of the civil rights movement, Gilliard was on the front lines of a myriad of issues such as the burning of the black churches, disparities in sentencing, voter registration, economic empowerment, the fight to eradicate gun violence, the HIV\AIDS crisis, hate crimes and many others. Gilliard was also the principle non-Muslim promoter of the celebrated Million Man March.
Since November, Gilliard has lectured on the book widely, including at Savannah State University, Lewis and Clark College, Winston-Salem State University, Atlanta University, Lincoln University and at high schools and civil rights conferences. He has also served as the first keynote speaker at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy State University in Montgomery on the King holiday in 2003, as well as the keynote speaker at six military bases in Germany during February 2003 in celebration of the U.S. government’s commemoration of W. E. B. DuBois’ “The Soul of Black Folk..” Gilliard most recently served as one of the featured authors at a “teach-in” for junior high and high school students at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta on August 23rd , along with “The Dream” author Drew Henson, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington. He was also the featured speaker at an event sponsored by the Atlanta Metro Chapter of BIG (Blacks in Government) commemorating the 40th anniversary.
Gilliard, who was featured in an major article Sunday, August 24th in the Dallas Morning News, can be contacted for future engagements at his website, www.gilliardcommunications.com, or by calling (404) 681-6200, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.