Lessons from James Baldwin’s America author talk set Sept. 15

September 9, 2020

Professor and author Eddie S. Glaude Jr. will participate in a live, interactive conversation about his book, “Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own,” at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Browseabout Books, Lewes Public Library and the Southern Delaware Alliance on Racial Justice have partnered for this event. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence, an emerging, Georgetown-based, free, public charter high school focused on service learning. The school will be submitting an application to the Delaware Department of Education in 2021.

Glaude will be in conversation with Tameca Beckett, reference and access services librarian at Delaware State University and a board member of the Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence.

Over the past two years, Glaude’s fiery appearances on MSNBC have frequently gone viral and made him one of today’s leading public intellectuals. His latest book combines biography, history and polemic to make an argument that Americans today stand on the precipice of a decision about this country’s identity that will reverberate for decades.

In “Begin Again,” Glaude looks at James Baldwin’s world and sees the current moment reflected back. As Baldwin lived during the Civil Rights movement, Glaude argues that people today live in the aftertimes of the Obama presidency and the promise of Black Lives Matter. 

In both cases, America responded to a challenge to the existing racial order by reasserting what Glaude calls the lie: the broad and powerful architecture of false assumptions by which white lives are valued more than others. That reassertion has been violent and devastating. Just as Baldwin watched America respond to the movement with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., so have today’s citizens seen the murder of black Americans by white cops, a steady assault on voting rights, and the election of Donald Trump. And they have witnessed as it all reached a crescendo in the brutal murder of George Floyd and the massive protests that followed. 

Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the former president of the American Academy of Religion, the largest professional organization of scholars of religion in the world. He hails from Moss Point, Miss., a small town on the Gulf Coast, and is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta.

"BASSE is working to reimagine societal systems by harnessing the power of the education system of the U.S. to become a place where we can create possibilities of reconciliation and repair,"  said Alonna Berry, founder and co-chair of BASSE.

The school is named in honor of Bryan Stevenson, a prolific social justice activist and lawyer originally from Milton. Stevenson is a professor of law at New York University and the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, “Just Mercy,” which was recently adapted into a feature film of the same name starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.

Stevenson and his family want to ensure the opportunity for students to learn through community-focused service-learning. “BASSE will partner with community businesses as part of our service-learning curriculum that will allow students to have real, hands-on work experience,” said Berry. That work and service experience will bring students knowledge of their community needs and challenges, helping them to hopefully innovate in those spaces. Combined with a rigorous academic curriculum and social justice lens, BASSE will offer students a unique chance to explore, achieve, and create impact at school and in their community.

This online event is offered through Zoom and is free to the public. Registration is required to receive information on how to join the meeting.

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