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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Transgender Activists Push For Equality At City Club Forum

From L to R: Journalist and moderator Connie Schultz, Susan Becker, Professor of Law Emerita, Cleveland State; Henry Ng, Clinical Director, PRIDE Clinic; Stacey Parsons, facilitator at TransFamily Support Group; and Darius Stubbs, teaching artist An introspective, respectful and sold-out City Club audience gathered to consider the long march to equality for transgender people in Northeast Ohio. Activist Stacey Parsons spoke directly to the elected officials in the room: "Without your support, nothing can change. Your being here says so much to the community." Darius Stubbs, a Cleveland teaching artist, added that “public policy helps change the city and if changes are made there, then people have to evaluate where they stand personally." The session opened with Dr. Kevin Ng, who... Read More →

How Books@Work Program Allowed Readers To See Themselves In Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth Of Other Suns”

by Rachel Burstein Our experience of a book can be changed—and enriched—when we read it alongside people who are different from us. That’s the verdict from participants at a recent Books@Work program in Cleveland. The group read The Warmth of Other Suns from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson. Her meticulously researched and beautifully told history of the Great Migration won a 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Books@Work is a non-profit organization that brings professor-led literature seminars into the workplace and to a variety of community settings. Few participants in a recent seminar were prepared for how profoundly reading and discussing Isabel Wilkerson’s book would hit them. Many recognized elements of their own family history in the book, causing them to... Read More →

Researcher Richard Rothstein Makes Compelling Push To Address Modern Segregation At City Club Of Cleveland

Photo credit | Donn R. Nottage In a popular U.S. high school history textbook, The Americans, there is only one sentence—in passive voice—on housing discrimination among more than 1200 pages of text: "African-Americans found themselves forced into segregated neighborhoods." So noted researcher Richard Rothstein, who cited this fact as an exemplar of American "collective amnesia" when it comes to how we discuss segregation. Such disingenuousness, he told the City Club of Cleveland, keeps our nation from righting past wrongs.  In October, the Economic Policy Institute published Rothstein’s latest scholarship: "The Making of Ferguson: Public Policy at Root of its Troubles." This work, praised for its incisive analysis by Ta-Nehisi Coates, synthesized the cumulative effects of... Read More →

Activist Bryan Stevenson Leads “Let’s Talk About Injustice” Community Forum March 19

Bryan Stevenson—campaigner against mass incarceration and author of a new report linking the ubiquity of lynching in the American South to violence against black men today—will make his case in Cleveland. "We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent," Stevenson told the audience at his TED Talk. "Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes." That 24-minute address, which received two standing ovations and more than two million views, represents the crux of Stevenson's life work. As founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, the attorney and New York University law professor devotes his life to challenging a culture of mass incarceration and advocating for the rights of... Read More →

How To Improve Diversity In Children’s Literature – One Book At A Time

People of color make up close to 40 percent of the current U.S. population, so what would you do about the desert in children’s literature where fewer than one in ten books feature multi-cultural characters or themes? That question framed the American Library Association’s “Day of Diversity” last month as participants dug into a problem whose contours have barely changed in half a century. Organizers challenged librarians, publishers, writers, editors, booksellers and educators at the Chicago meeting to come up with ways to increase diversity on the typical American child’s bookshelf. Children’s author Elizabeth Bluemle plucked seven audience suggestions for her Publishers Weekly blog, each capable of yielding immediate, tangible results:  1) Adopt a classroom. 2) Buy... Read More →

Historian Sarah Lewis On Creativity And Failure At Case Western Reserve University

August Wilson, winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement award in 2005, used to begin writing his plays on napkins to elude the fear of the blank page. And the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King—also an Anisfield-Wolf recipient—was so unsure of himself in front of a group that he received a C+ in public speaking at seminary, only to drift down to a C in the second semester. When art historian Sarah Lewis saw that transcript, it served as a revelation. “When I saw this at Sotheby’s, I knew I needed to write this book,” Lewis told Seth Meyers last year. “Because if we are not telling the full arc of people’s lives and stories, then we deprive ourselves of the roadmaps we need.” Her book is “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery.... Read More →

REVIEW: John Lewis Continues His “March,” Offers Handbook For Nonviolent Demonstrations

The second installment in March, Rep. John Lewis' acclaimed graphic memoir trilogy on the civil rights movement, picks up where the first volume left off, but this book is more handbook than history lesson. "I see some of the same manners, some of the same thinking, on the part of young people today that I witnessed as a student," the Georgia Congressman, 74, told the New York Times. "The only thing that is so different is that I don't think many of the young people have a deep understanding of the way of nonviolent direct action." March: Book Two, released in January, offers a robust crash course. This book centers on a young Lewis and his increasing responsibility within the movement from 1960 to 1963. The graphic memoir opens on young protesters staging a sit-in at a Nashville lunch... Read More →
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