Sunday, January 29, 2017 — Reading Across Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s only One Book, One State community read program, kicked off its 15th year with the 2017 title Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
300 people from all corners of the state packed the auditorium of the Providence Public Library to capacity for an engaging, genuine, and forward-looking panel discussion on the book’s themes of proximity, understanding, and justice. Expertly led by Reading Across Rhode Island Honorary Chairs Judges Judith Colenback Savage and Edward C. Clifton, this gathering is just the beginning of the conversation.
A sincere thank you to our panelists:
Tara Allen, Rhode Island Assistant Federal Defender
Noah Kilroy, Esq., Kilroy Delgado Law Group
Anthony Roberson, Detective, Providence Police Department
Eriln Rogel, Teacher, Gilbert Stuart Middle School
Jordan Seaberry, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence
Julia Steiny, Founder and Director, Youth Restoration Project
Thanks also to Classical High School students Federico Martinez and Kimberly Cuellar, who shared a presentation on Youth in Action’s Identity Room living-exhibit. And to Hafzat Akanni, Boston University, 2020 | Hope High School, 2016 who shared her experience traveling to the Equal Justice Initiative, which was founded by author Bryan Stevenson, in a presentation entitles “Post Slavery America, An Era Where Mass Incarceration Has Become the New Norm.”
This wonderful celebration of the power of a book to build bridges and spark conversation was made possible thanks to our dedicated volunteers and partners: Reading Across Rhode Island Committee, Rhode Island Center for the Book Advisory Committee, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Board, National Endowment for the Humanities, Brown University Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Providence Public Library, Youth in Action, College Unbound, and Jay Beithan.
As programming begins, be sure to check the calendar for book discussion events in your area and check out our 2017 EnRICHment Speakers including:
Morgan Grefe, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Society
Nick Horton, Program Director, OpenDoors and Founder, 9 Yards
Steven Brown, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island
Living Literature, RI-based performing artists, celebrating the written word through readers-theatre style performances since 1996
With programs in libraries, classrooms, senior centers, and community centers across the state, this book is serving as a starting point to dive into brave conversations about the need to get closer–proximate–in order to truly understand our differences and work together towards positive change. As you participate in events, lead discussions, or even have a conversation over lunch with a co-worker or friend that ties to the themes of Just Mercy–share your story on social media. Tweet and post @rihumanities and @ribook using the #ProximityRI hashtag. Join in the movement–get closer.