The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills


In a one-of-a-kind brilliantly illustrated children’s book that’s based on a true story, veteran television journalist Cheryl Wills tells a powerful tale about her enslaved ancestor who fought for his freedom as a soldier during The Civil War. 

Overflowing with lessons of perseverance and the power of one’s imagination, the book also meets common core standards, includes depth of knowledge questions and a handy glossary.  Edited by an Ivy-league educated and award winning teacher, The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills is a story that students and teachers alike will cherish for the entire school year.

Young readers will be captivated by the emotional narrative which is spun from Cheryl’s real-life career as a television anchor who researches what turns out to be her biggest scoop ever: tracking down her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills. 

Die Free:
A Heroic Family Tale

Its a piercing question that so many Americans have: Who are my ancestors and are there any heroes in my bloodline? Award-winning television journalist and author Cheryl Wills discovered her long lost ancestors and found heroes everywhere.

This captivating biography traces her troubled father’s bloodline from modern day New York City to 19th century slave plantations in Tennessee. Cheryl’s extensive research uncovers an epic story during The Civil War Era that inspires readers from all walks of life.

Armed with historical records culled from The National Archives in Washington, D.C., Cheryl paints a vivid portrait of the African-American experience from The Pre-Civil War Era to Post-Slavery and from Jim Crow to The Black Migration. As readers will learn from this emotion-packed memoir, The Wills family lived through it all and Cheryl bears witness to her ancestor’s harrowing yet triumphant journey. 



Cheryl has lectured at hundreds of schools and is one of the most sought after speakers with the New York City Department of Education.

Here’s a short list of some Cheryl‘s recent school appearances:

  • Aerospace & Science Academy, Queens
  • High School of Sports Management
  • East New York Family Academy
  • M.S. 53, Far Rockaway
  • P.S. 268, Manhattan
  • William Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School, Brooklyn
  • Queens Gateways Secondary School, Queens
  • Goldie Maple Academy, Queens
  • Village Academy, Queens
  • Van Nest Academy, Bronx
  • Astor Collegiate Academy Bronx, NY
  • John Philip Dosa Middle School, Bronx
  • Pablo Casals Middle School  Bronx
  • Renaissance High School, Harlem
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy,  Harlem
  • The Heritage School,  Harlem
  • Preparatory Academy for Writers, Queens
  • NYC Urban Ambassadors, Department of Education
  • De La Salle Academy, Manhattan
  • The School for Community Research & Learning,  Bronx
  • Ability School, Englewood, New Jersey
  • Uniondale High School, Uniondale
  • Clear Stream Elementary School, Valley Stream
  • In Tech Academy

In addition to schools & colleges:  Cheryl is a skilled international speaker and has addressed The United Nations General Assembly numerous times.  She has been selected as the keynote speaker for numerous conferences and corporate events  including:

  • United Federation of Teachers (UFT)
  • Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA)
  • National Archives & Records Administration in Washington DC
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The World Summit of Mayor’s Leadership Conference in Senegal, West Africa
  • African American Civil War Memorial & Museum
  • New York Academy of Medicine
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA
  • Essence Empowerment Festival
  • African American Genealogy Conference
  • New York City Police Department
  • United African Congress
  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • The Links, Inc.,
  • New York Association of Black Educators
  • Time Inc.,
  • New York Life Insurance Company
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To schedule Cheryl for your next
event please contact:

Emanuel Robinson
Manager of Operations, Wills Publishing & Productions, LLC
P.O. Box 1133
Baldwin, NY 11510