Civil Rights and Equality: A Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series

Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma (LTAIO) offers more than your average book club for adults. With the added benefit of a humanities scholar to inform and broaden discussions, participants are able to explore the human experience through literature in meaningful and thought-provoking ways.

A series consists of 4-5 sessions, each featuring a book from the chosen discussion theme. A humanities scholar opens each session telling about the author’s life, giving historical context to the book, sharing its contemporary relevance, and explaining how the book ties into the overarching theme. Participants then discuss their own thoughts about the book.

Starting in January, we are offering the series “Civil Rights and Equality.”  The five Pulitzer Prize-nominated or –winning books in this series all work toward trying to better help us understand our American context and our own unrealized ideals by immersing us in specific historic or contemporary moments, with fully realized individuals experiencing inequality. Sign up at the front desk and get a copy of the first book. Each monthly discussion will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room.  Come by the library to register and pick up a copy of the book.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Mon., Jan. 15, 6:30 p.m.
Jones’ well researched historical novel weaves together different time sequences and family histories as it follows the story of former slave Henry Townsend in early 19th-century Virginia.  Discussion led by Dr. Bill Corbett.

Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway
Mon., Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.
Natasha Tretheway, one of the finest living poets in the U.S., offers an accessible collection of related poems that explore her own childhood history in the South alongside an exploration of the history of the Louisiana “Native Guard,” an African American branch of the National Guard that served during the Civil War.  Discussion led by Dr. John Coward.

The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle
Mon., March 12, 6:30 p.m.
This work of engrossing nonfiction follows the story of a young African American doctor who sought to buy a house in a majority-white neighborhood in Michigan and was resisted by the existing residents.  Discussion led by Kurt Lively.

A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
Mon., April 2, 6:30 p.m.
The premise at the root of the story is the unsolved murder of a 19th-century North Dakota farm family, wrongly blamed on some nearby members or the Ojibwa tribe, who paid for the accusation with their lives.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
Mon., May 14, 6:30 p.m.
Boo’s book tells the true story of a family who lives in the slums of Mumbai, India, taking the discussion of civil rights into an international context.

Books, theme materials, and services for this series are provided by “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for this series is provided by grants from the Inasmuch Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

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