In answering questions about his new book for my Sunday Sun column, Ben Jealous mentioned, as he has on occasion, that he was a stutterer. I remember him talking about this during his unsuccessful run for Maryland governor in 2018, after the incumbent, Republican Larry Hogan, released a negative campaign commercial mocking Jealous for speaking gaffes.
Last week, Jealous, former president of the NAACP, revealed how his struggles with stuttering helped him compose his second book, “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing,” just released by Armistad, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Jealous is a very busy guy, so I wondered how he managed to find time to write the book and record its eight-hour audio edition.
“In order to cope with the childhood anxiety about my stutter,” he said, “I cultivated my skill as an extemporaneous speaker. Reading speeches was impossible for me because I stumbled trying to say the words. So I learned how to speak without notes. After struggling with writing my second book for years, I decided to try something new. It was [during] COVID.… My experiment would be to record an entire book as a series of connected extemporaneous speeches. In the end, I delivered 23 speeches to my computer. In two weeks, more than 80 percent of the manuscript that was published last week was composed in that period.”

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