Humanities Council’s One Book Author Megan Phelps-Roper Making Virtual Tour

Phelps-Roper's Next Zoom Discussion is Aug. 4

Every summer, the statewide South Dakota Humanities Council's One Book South Dakota author tours South Dakota to meet readers and fans. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's author, former Westboro Baptist Church member Megan Phelps-Roper, is interacting with fans virtually.

In July, Phelps-Roper began discussing "Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church" via Zoom and other online platforms. Her virtual tour will conclude at the 2020 South Dakota Festival of Books Oct. 2-4 in Brookings. Typically, the One Book author makes a keynote presentation at the annual Festival, but SDHC is still determining whether events can safely be held in person.

"Megan's talking to as many people as possible virtually," said Jennifer Widman, director of the Festival of Books. "While she prefers the kind of personal connections she can make at live events, she has been pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable and rewarding the virtual format has been. Her audiences have felt the same way."

Two Events Held in July

Phelps-Roper's first two virtual tour events, held in July via Zoom and coordinated by the Rapid City Public Library and the Huron Public Library, proved that online conversations can be as meaningful as those held in person.

"The book discussion was wonderful. Megan was very easy to talk to and open to all questions," said Angela Bailey, cataloger at the Huron Public Library and coordinator of the virtual event. "It was very interesting listening to her experience at the Westboro Church. The discussion was respectful, and I think if we had the time it could have gone for several hours."

The Rapid City Public Library hosted a Zoom program with SDHC scholar Molly Barari interviewing Phelps-Roper in an event that was also live streamed to Facebook.

"Both Megan and the discussion leader Molly Barari were a pleasure to host virtually," said Aly Albert, events coordinator at the Rapid City Public Library. "Megan came prepared and willing to share in deep discussion about her memoir and life. Molly was a great discussion leader who kept the ball rolling the entire event."

Barari, one of many SDHC scholars available to facilitate book discussions, was especially valuable as a facilitator, Albert said.

"She came prepared with many of her own well-thought-out questions, but also with explanations of topics in the book so that even those participants who hadn't read it were in the loop. Overall, it was a successful and enjoyable event that promoted deep thought and listening with an open mind."

Author Megan Phelps-Roper's Book

Tour Continues Through September

Phelps-Roper's tour continues in August, with virtual events hosted by Lemmon Public Library (Aug. 4), Brookings Public Library (Aug. 10), Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library in Lead (Aug. 26) and Siouxland Libraries in Sioux Falls (Aug. 29). In September, she will participate in events at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Sioux Falls (Sept. 18), Yankton Community Library (Sept. 24) and Lennox Community Library (Sept. 26). The current schedule and information about how to attend virtual events is below. Additional events are pending in at least three communities: check for schedule updates at


Read More About Phelps-Roper

Interested in learning more about the 2020 One Book Author? Click below to read our feature story on the SDHC blog.