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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Professor Kenneth Warren Visits Cleveland For Talk On Race, Literature, And #BlackLivesMatter

Kenneth Warren, a University of Chicago literature professor, asked a gathering of students and faculty in Cleveland this fall to reflect on a famous 1968 classroom experiment – the one that teacher Jane Elliott created as a “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise with her Iowa third-graders. The day after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Elliott divided her class between brown and blue-eyed children, arbitrarily declaring that brown eyes were better. “The results are almost immediate and remarkable,” Warren said, recalling a famous documentary made about the experiment. “Students with brown-eyes began to treat students with blue eyes, some of whom they had, until that moment, regarded as best friends, as if they are indeed inferior and pariahs, while students... Read More →

REVIEW: “The Education of Kevin Powell”

Violence permeates nearly every page of "The Education of Kevin Powell." Neighborhood boys, relatives, authority figures and even the author himself doles out pain aplenty in this memoir and coming-of-age story. Born and raised in a poverty-stricken Jersey City neighborhood, young Kevin's early years are a series of grim vignettes—fights on the school yard, nightmares about rats in the walls and a few brief visits from a father scarcely there. From such beginnings he grows into a prominent activist among the post-Civil Rights generation—fighting police brutality, racism and sexism.  Powell, 49, traces his love for words to the Greenville Public Library, where he stumbled upon “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as an 11-year-old. He fell in love with Ernest Hemingway. "If I could not... Read More →

Bringing Maya Angelou’s Poetry To Single Moms In Cleveland

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes—one I love so much that I gave all my friends an illustrated copy of it—is: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” So when the keynote speaker at the first Cleveland Single Moms Conference dropped this gem mid-way through her talk, I felt an instant connection. Robyn Hill, a licensed counselor with a practice on the east side of Cleveland, made Angelou the focus of her keynote, sharing with more than 75 attendees 11 insights from the author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” "Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances" seemed particularly apt. Professor Michelle Rankins led a lunchtime session... Read More →

The Incredible Staying Power Of James McBride’s “The Color of Water”

by Gail Arnoff, adjunct professor, John Carroll University  The first time I read The Color of Water, I was deep in the woods of Otter Creek, a lovely wilderness in West Virginia. In my hammock strung between two trees, with the musical creek flowing just below our campsite, I began to read. From the first page I was fascinated by the story of James McBride and his mother, Ruth Jordan McBride. I didn't climb out of the hammock until hours later, when I'd finished the book. That summer I was planning a seminar, “Questions of Identity,” for Case Western Reserve University and was looking for pertinent memoirs. I knew immediately that The Color of Water would make the reading list.   In the past eight years I have introduced McBride and his mother to more than 135 students. The... Read More →

Ta-Nehisi Coates On Dismantling White Supremacy: “Any Definition Of Race Always Depends Upon Power”

Photo credit: Donn Nottage Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is very clear on his role: Dig for the truth and get out of the way. "If you are going to be a writer you have to write into the wind. You have to say, 'I'm prepared to do this and give my all, even if only 20 people read the book.'" Many thousands have embraced Coates' Between the World and Me, which caught fire immediately upon its July release and topped the New York Times bestseller list. It is a National Book Award finalist and earned a jacket blurb from Toni Morrison, who crowned Coates the successor to James Baldwin. "I've been writing for 20 years—all of this is recent,” he said. “I liked what I was doing before this happened and I'll like what I'm doing when this goes away."  Sitting across from City Club of... Read More →
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