SIUE Alum Tiffany Lee Co-Authors Book Celebrating East St. Louis Residents

SIUE Alum Tiffany Lee Co-Authors Book Celebrating East St. Louis Residents

Tiffany and PettyBecause Southern Illinois University Edwardsville alum Tiffany Grimmett Lee knows about the incredible accomplishments and contributions made by people from her native East St. Louis, she wanted to pass on this history to others.

Lee and Reginald Petty co-wrote, Legendary East St. Louisans: An African American Series. Lee’s company, TiffanyRose Publishing, published the book in June. The book spotlights 49 people, who made inroads or excelled as educators, activists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes and more. The lives of these legendary residents spanned from 1850-2016.

“I grew up hearing about successful and influential people, who lived in East St. Louis,” said Lee, who received a bachelor’s in psychology in 1998 from SIUE and master’s in communication in 2002 from Lindenwood University. Lee is also a communications instructor at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

“When I was taking a documentary film class at Washington University, I wanted to present something positive about East St. Louis,” Lee continued. “My father, Thomas Grimmett, told me to talk to Reginald Petty and Dr. Eugene B. Redmond.”

Petty, historian, civil rights activist and Peace Corp director, has published several booklets containing East St. Louis historical documentation, such as excerpts from East St. Louis newspaper clippings, directories, books and school yearbooks entitled, Bits & Pieces.

“He always wanted to write a book about notable East St. Louis residents,” Lee said, “so we decided to team up. He was the lead researcher, and I was the lead writer.”

The book spotlights such well-known East St. Louisans as: jazz musician Miles Davis, Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee and legendary dancer and educator Katherine Dunham. Readers will also find lesser-known leaders of the early African American community such as Carrie K. (Johnson) Bowles, one of the first African American women to join The League of Women Voters of St. Louis and fight alongside famed suffragist Edna Gellhorn; and Dr. Henri Weathers, who fought to allow African American doctors to practice at local hospitals.

From John Robinson’s fight for African American schools in the late 1800s to President Barack Obama’s recent historical appointment of Staci Yandle of East St. Louis as the second openly gay person appointed to a federal court, the book gives a glimpse of more than 100 years of East St. Louis African American history.

“The purpose of this book is to bring forth the history of African American East St. Louisans, and their uniqueness as well as their positive contributions to humanity,” wrote Petty in the book’s preface. “East St. Louis has definitely produced its share of productive and innovative African Americans in arts, sports, politics, music, medicine, etc.” Petty is also featured in the book.

“This book is as regal as it is revealing and compelling,” wrote Eugene B. Redmond, SIUE emeritus professor of English and East St. Louis poet laureate. “Artisans, athletes, educators, entertainers, scientists, veterans of wars and the Race Riot of 1917 join political leaders and poets in this dream- and performance-storied portraiture of African American East St. Louis.” Redmond is also featured in the book.

“The hardest part in writing the book was narrowing down the information,” Lee said. “We had so much information and almost 90 people on the list of people to possibly feature. In actuality, there are many more than that. We’ve been asked about leaving some people out, but there are just so many people, that one book would never do the city justice.”

“One of the main purposes of the book,” Lee added, “was for it to be used by East St. Louis school children, so they can be inspired, but also so they can learn about their history.”

Her next work, which will be available in summer of 2017, will cover East St. Louis people, places and events from 1917-2017.

For more information or to purchase the book, visit


Co-Authors of Legendary East St. Louisans: An African American Series, SIUE Alum Tiffany Grimmett Lee and Reginald Petty.

This article originally appeared on SIUE’s Website.

Published by

TiffanyRose Publishing

The mission of TiffanyRose Publishing is to amplify truly diverse voices. To this effort, we publish works that highlight marginalized voices of different ethnicities, genders, and religious and socioeconomic statuses. Our belief is that we may look different, speak different languages, live in different locations, but our struggles and our accomplishments have been mirrored throughout history. Through telling diverse stories, TiffanyRose Publishing hopes to contribute to broadening the lens through which we view ‘The American Experience.’

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