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Die Free

“Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale”: Cheryl Wills Uncovers Family’s History from Slavery to Freedom

In this year marking the 150th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation, we speak to NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills, who uncovered the story of her great-great-great-grandparents, Sandy and Emma Wills. Sandy was a slave who escaped from his master and joined the United States Colored Troops to fight in the Civil War. Wills based her book, “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale,” on thousands of documents from the National Archives. The book’s title comes from a quote by Frederick Douglass: “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even die free than to live slaves.” We speak to Wills one day after the United Nations marked its sixth annual International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale by Cheryl Wills

When award-winning television news anchor Cheryl Wills discovers that her Great-great-great grandfather, Sandy Wills, was a runaway slave who joined the historic fight for freedom in the American Civil War, she embarks on an gut-wrenching search to learn more about the courageous ancestor who demonstrated the same courage that she knew in her beloved father, an intrepid New York City firefighter, who died when Cheryl was thirteen, and who never knew his family’s notable legacy. Told with deep love and a brow-raising honesty, Die Free stretches from Haywood County, Tennessee, in the 1860’s to New York City in the twentieth century. Cheryl shares the unvarnished truth about the Wills’ family roots, ever entwined in passion, music, and faith. Cheryl Wills Biography:

Cheryl Wills speaks at United Nations inside General Assembly Hall

On March 25, 2011 Cheryl Wills made history as the first journalist invited to speak at the United Nations inside the General Assembly Hall for The International Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.‬

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