Celebrity-Driven Coffee Table
Picture Book Educates & Entertains
(Hollywood, CA) If you could have dinner with anyone from historyʼs past, who would it be and what would the conversation consist of? That is the question more than 350 entertainers, athletes, and notables answered in Dining With The Ancestors: When Heroes Come To Dinner, a popular coffee table picture book that's sweeping the nation.
Penned by Dr. Eric J. Chambers, a 4-time Emmy Award winning journalist (CBS Hollywood), the book is educating and entertaining people at the same time. R&B legend Gladys Knight, who said sheʼd choose her late mother, her late friend Dr. Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, whom she revealed was a relative. “Dr. King was my cousin and I wish he was still here,” she said. “Iʼd like to have dinner with him again.” Of the 141 people featured in the book, 42 (30%) made Dr. King their runaway choice, outdistancing Malcolm Xʼs 14, Harriet Tubmanʼs 13, Frederick Douglassʼs 13 and Jesusʼ 11. Tupac, Marvin Gaye, Mahalia Jackson, Crispus Attucks, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Marcus Garvey and Billie Holiday received invites, as well as people still alive including Sydney Poitier, The Obamas, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Fidel Castro, Pastor Rick Warren, Tavis Smiley and OJ Simpson, who was chosen by an All-Pro NFL player.
Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Kendrick Lamar, Ne-Yo, Brandy, Tyrese, Bishop TD Jakes, Yolanda Adams, Sheryl Underwood, Israel Houghton, Suge Knight, Donnie McClurkin, Charlie Wilson, India Arie, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Cedric The Entertainer, Morgan Freeman and Tamar Braxton are among the stars featured. You can view the trailer and buy the book at on this website.
“Civil Rights icon, Emmett Louis Tillʼs mother, Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley, was a ʻsurrogate grandmotherʼ to me,” said Chambers, from his home in Orange County, California. “While looking at a picture of us at dinner with others in San Diego from 2000, I thought about how awesome it was having dinner with some of my heroes, including her, Sistah Rosa Parks, Don Cornelius, Andrae ́ Crouchand Frankie Beverly. It inspired me to ask celebrities who they would want to have dinner with. Thatʼs how the concept was born,” he says.
This one-of-a-kind Black History coffee table picture book has gained the attention of many, including Rick Warren, the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, and noted poet and activist Nikki Giovanni who is featured in it. In a personal note to Chambers, she wrote, “What a lovely idea so lovingly carried through. ʻDining With The Ancestorsʼ is a joy to read and then re-read and re-read yet again. Thanks for inviting me to be join this conversation.” Tyler Perry was very impressed with it.
Chambers first asked the question in 2004 while interviewing Yolanda King, his late friend and the eldest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Yolanda, whoʼs also spotlighted in the book, sang the praises of her own parents, especially her mother, during the interview that aired on Chambersʼ Jazzspel TV show which at the time was carried nationally on The Word Network.
When the religious network unexpectedly canceled his wildly popular show in March 2012, he struck a deal to go to another TV network, TCT (Total Christian Television). “They called me on December 11, 2012, the day after my birthday, and said theyʼd pick up my show,” offered the New Orleans native and publisher. Once green lit, he began shooting a Black History episode for a February 2013 debut by asking the question on red carpets in Hollywood. Said rap star Kendrick Lamar, “Thatʼs a good one.” Three weeks after the TCT agreement, they e-mailed him--reneging on the deal. But because the celebrities were so intrigued by the question, he continued asking it while reporting for his own newly formed You Tube channel called, The CUT (Chambers Urban TV Network). It was then the idea of a book was born. “What a great question! What a great concept for a book!” exclaimed pop star Brandy, who cried upon seeing herself and Whitney Houston, her choice of an ancestral dinner mate, in the book..
“This book is a great non-threatening way to share our Black History with the world,” said Dr. Maceo Crenshaw Daley, the Director of African-American Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, the place Chambers kicked off his 2015 national tour. At his Los Angeles premiere, actors Dawnn Lewis, Darrin Dewitt Henson, JaNet DuBois, Willard Pugh and May May Ali, whom all appear in the book, were present and created an autograph assembly line. “I told them to come join me in signing autographs and they did. We had an incredible night!” Chambers recalls.
The book is an imprint of Chambersʼ Who Dat? Publishing House, LLC venture. He is offering fans a unique opportunity to win dinner with him and a celebrity or two. To date, his tour has included New Orleans; Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, where the mayor bought a book; Atlanta, Chicago, Albuquerque, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego. In addition, he has visited Macon, GA., Brooklyn, Harlem and New York City, Baltimore, Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC on the tour.