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James McBride and the Good Lord Bird Tour Stop at BC

Photo of James McBride

by Andrew Peters ’15

Taking Cole Hall by storm, author and musician James McBride rocked students with music, while promoting his new book, The Good Lord Bird, on Oct. 2.

In his newest book, McBride delves into the nonfiction story of “Little Onion,” a slave boy in Harpers Ferry, as he is abducted by John Brown. Brown, in 1859, led an attack on the armory in Harpers Ferry that is credited as a catalyst for the American Civil War.

McBride likened the fight against slavery to global warming. “I am against global warming. If I steal someone’s [gas-guzzler]…I mean, I stole a car,” exclaimed McBride, referring to Brown attempting to steal arms to abolish slavery.

During his stay with Brown, “Little Onion” found God as he saw what Brown was fighting for.

McBride transitioned to music to help tell the story of “Little Onion.” To help him, McBride introduced a few friends, Adam Faulk on the piano, “Showtime” Brooks on drums, Trevor Exeter on bass and award-winning guitarist Keith Robinson. They showed how “Little Onion” was able to “Lay Down Your Burdens.”

Using a unique blend of jazz, gospel and a little bit of rock, McBride and accompanists serenaded the audience through the story of “Little Onion.” And they really appreciated it.

“I loved it! I loved how they meshed the story of John Brown with the music. [It was] my kind of music!” enthused Rachael Sloan, ’14.

Even others thought that the convocation was even more than that. “[It was] probably one of the best convos in my years at Bridgewater,” said junior Tracy Boswell.

Finishing out the convocation, McBride told students to “remember you have a right to fail.” He encouraged the audience to study everything since it gives you the ability to think. “You find success by failing many times.” McBride reminded the students that “John Brown was a failure in this life, but we are still talking about his great failure.”

Media Contacts

Charles Culbertson
Director of Media Relations and
Editor of Bridgewater Magazine
Office: 540-828-5720
Mobile: 540-255-1831

Mary Kay Heatwole
Media Relations Assistant
Office: 540-828-5486

Abbie Parkhurst
Executive Director of Marketing & Communications/College Spokeswoman
Office: 540-828-5782
Mobile: 540-294-1441