TEMPORARILY MEETING ON ZOOM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register or get more information.
The 4th Thursday circle is for book lovers looking for the perfect way to share thoughts and ideas on race, using today’s writers and old favorites. From Michelle Obama’s Becoming, to Ben Campbell's Richmond's Unhealed History, this group covers novels from the bestseller list to classic civil rights literature, to books written by up and coming authors. Enjoy fellowship and phenomenal reads most 4th Thursdays of the month. 6:30 - 8:30 pm. We do not meet in November and December.
Co-Conveners: Cheryl Goode, Karen Franklin, Brett Hoag, Doug Steele, and Marsha Summers
To see a list of books our circle has discussed, please click here.
Our May book is President Barack Obama's memoir A Promised Land. The site Goodreads.com has the following description of this book:
"A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making, from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.
In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day."
Our June book is Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson. The site Goodreads.com has the following description of this book:
"Harriet Tubman is one of the giants of American history—a fearless visionary who led scores of her fellow slaves to freedom and battled courageously behind enemy lines during the Civil War. And yet in the nine decades since her death, next to nothing has been written about this extraordinary woman aside from juvenile biographies. The truth about Harriet Tubman has become lost inside a legend woven of racial and gender stereotypes. Now at last, in this long-overdue biography, historian Kate Clifford Larson gives Harriet Tubman the powerful, intimate, meticulously detailed life she deserves.
Drawing from a trove of new documents and sources as well extensive genealogical research, Larson reveals Tubman as a complex woman— brilliant, shrewd, deeply religious, and passionate in her pursuit of freedom. The descendant of the vibrant, matrilineal Asanti people of the West African Gold Coast, Tubman was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but refused to spend her life in bondage. While still a young woman she embarked on a perilous journey of self-liberation—and then, having won her own freedom, she returned again and again to liberate family and friends, tapping into the Underground Railroad.
Yet despite her success, her celebrity, her close ties with Northern politicians and abolitionists, Tubman suffered crushing physical pain and emotional setbacks. Stripping away myths and misconceptions, Larson presents stunning new details about Tubman’s accomplishments, personal life, and influence, including her relationship with Frederick Douglass, her involvement with John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and revelations about a young woman who may have been Tubman’s daughter. Here too are Tubman’s twilight years after the war, when she worked for women’s rights and in support of her fellow blacks, and when racist politicians and suffragists marginalized her contribution.
Harriet Tubman, her life and her work, remain an inspiration to all who value freedom. Now, thanks to Larson’s breathtaking biography, we can finally appreciate Tubman as a complete human being—an American hero, yes, but also a woman who loved, suffered, and sacrificed. Bound for the Promised Land is a magnificent work of biography, history, and truth telling."
Our July book is Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. The site Goodreads.com has the following description of this book:
"In the tradition of Wench and Twelve Years a Slave, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.
Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Brown was promised her freedom on her eighteenth birthday. But when her birthday finally comes around, instead of the idyllic life she was hoping for with her true love, she finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half-Acre, a jail where slaves are broken, tortured, and sold every day. Forced to become the mistress of the brutal man who owns the jail, Pheby faces the ultimate sacrifice to protect her heart in this powerful, thrilling story of one slave’s fight for freedom."
For August we will discuss Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams. As presented on the Goodreads site:
"Leadership is hard. Convincing others—and yourself—that you are capable of taking charge and achieving more requires insight and courage. Lead from the Outside is the handbook for outsiders, written with an eye toward the challenges that hinder women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and millennials ready to make change. Stacey uses her hard-won insights to break down how ambition, fear, money, and failure function in leadership, and she includes practical exercises to help you realize your own ambition and hone your skills. Lead from the Outside discusses candidly what Stacey has learned over the course of her impressive career in politics, business and the nonprofit world: that differences in race, gender, and class provide vital strength, which we can employ to rise to the top and create real and lasting change."
For September we will discuss The Brownsville Texas Incident of 1906: The True and Tragic Story of a Black Battalion's Wrongful Disgrace and Ultimate Redemption by William Baker. As presented on the Goodreads site:
"Lieutenant Colonel (ret) William Baker’s The Brownsville Texas Incident of 1906 is a thought provoking and educational work about the injustice done to 167 black soldiers in 1906, and one man’s fight to bring them some modicum of justice.
In 1906, a battalion of the 25th infantry regiment, an all black unit (except for the officers), was posted to Fort Brown, in Brownsville, Texas. The unit had a proud history, and had seen combat and fought heroically in the Philippines and in Cuba, but Texas wanted no part of them. The men were subjected to discrimination almost immediately. Then, on a dark night, several raiders shot up the town and everyone swore the black soldiers committed the act. Six investigations in total were conducted, but they were all racially biased, and President Teddy Roosevelt drummed out all 167 black soldiers with dishonorable discharges. The men had no trial, no chance to face their accusers, and all the evidence that could exonerate them was dismissed.
Seventy years later, LtCol Baker, working in the Army’s Equal Opportunity Office, had a chance to do something about it. Despite opposition and an attitude by some to “let sleeping dogs lie,” Baker worked tirelessly to clear the soldiers’ names and get some sort of compensation to those still living and their widows.
This is a great story of moral courage and eventual justice. Those interested in the history of race relations in the military and social justice in general will find this compelling."
Our October book is One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson. The site Goodreads.com has the following description of this book:
"From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of White Rage, the startling—and timely—history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin.
In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice."
Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.
We're taking a deep dive into this pioneering and thought provoking work, a chapter or two at a time, throughout the year. Join us whenever you can make it on the 2nd Thursday of the month! Contact Darren Utley to be added to the "Education For Action" Book Circle.
This book was the first full-length study of the role Black Americans played in the crucial period after the Civil War, when the slaves had been freed and the attempt was made to reconstruct American society. Hailed when it was first published in 1935, it has justly become a classic. We will also talk about why the time period we're in has been called the "Third Reconstruction".
The co-conveners of this Book Circle are Darren Utley and Cheryl Goode.