Velma Maia Thomas is the author of several nonfiction books on African American history, including the award-winning interactive Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation (Random House, 1997). Additional books in the series are Freedom's Children, No Man Can Hinder Me, and We Shall Not Be Moved. Maia served as manager of the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1987 to 2000, where she created the nationally acclaimed Black Holocaust Exhibit, a collection of original documents on slavery in America.

A gifted writer and public historian, Maia was one of 100 distinguished Americans selected to contribute to Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem (Random House, 2000). She also was selected to write the introduction to Finding A Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity (Random House, 1999). Her latest work, The Odd Fellow City: The Promise of a Leading Black Town, has been published in the 2012 edition of the Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians. Early in 2012, she served as a subject expert for the PBS documentary, Underground Railroad: The William Still Story, which aired nationally in February.

Maia holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Howard University, a master's degree in political science from Emory University, and graduate level certificate in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She has served as keynote speaker at universities, libraries, and museums across the nation and has served as a distinguished scholar at the historic Penn Center on St. Helena, Island, South Carolina. Maia has been interviewed by the New York Times, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and the British Broadcasting Corporation. She continues to write, teach, and speak on African American history, using her engaging style to bring history to life.

She can be reached at

Photo by Michael Dawud Lewis