By Sarrah Peters
Gadsden Public Library is kicking off Gadsden Reads on August 1. Gadsden Reads is a literary movement, in which a chosen book is read by members of the community, and they are invited to participate in events focused around the book’s content.
This year’s book is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice & Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. The nonfiction piece details the case of Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Through the narrative, Stevenson exposes the flaws in the criminal justice system. The injustices make readers think about what mercy means to them, just as Stevenson did when he tried the case. Stevenson’s experience led him to create the Equal Justice Initiative.
Gadsden Public Library Director Amanda Jackson said that she believes it will be a really impactful program, particularly with teenagers. Library officials have visited schools throughout Gadsden and Etowah County to include students in the discussion.
“We all have a voice and a responsibility to speak up for equality,
justice and unity,” said Jackson. “The youth will be the ones to take
up the torch.
Jackson added that it is important to show children that a person who sees something happening that is unfair can do something to enact change.
Jackson wants the children to think, “What am I going to do for my community?”
The first Gadsden Reads program is a general book discussion on Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Blackstone Pub and Eatery.
On Aug. 18 at 12 p.m. a lecture and history program will be held at the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts. Executive Director of the Grace Heritage Foundation Chari Bostick will speak on their development and displacement of the 6th Street community area homes and businesses. Author and local journalist Bill Thornton will be speaking on the 1906 lynching of Bunk Richardson.
On Aug. 25 at 12 p.m. a panel will meet at the Meadows Learning Resource Center to further discuss the displacement of the downtown area homes and businesses to the 6th Street community for redevelopment.
On Sept. 1 at 9:45 a.m. Stevenson will discuss Just Mercy at Gadsden State Community College’s Wallace Hall.
On Sept. 8 at 12:30 p.m. Alabama Senator Hank Sanders, author of Death of a Fat Man, will speak at Gadsden City High School Auditorium.
On Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. a panel will be held at the Meadows Learning Resource Center to discuss mental health and the justice system.
On Sept, 22 at 12 p.m. a book discussion will be held at the Gadsden Public Library.
On Oct. 3, at 10 a.m. author Tim Wise will speak at Gadsden City High School Auditorium. Wise is the author of numerous books on race and civil rights issues, including Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America.
All Gadsden Reads programs are free to the public.
In order to present Gadsden Reads, The Gadsden Public Library partnered with the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden State Community College and the Etowah Bar Association.