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VIRTUAL BOOK TALK: Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
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VIRTUAL BOOK TALK: Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature

Farah Jasmine Griffin in conversation with Dr. Linda Chavers

Farah Jasmine Griffin has taken to her heart the phrase "read until you understand," a line her father, who died when she was nine, wrote in a note to her. She has made it central to this book about love of the majestic power of words and love of the magnificence of Black life.

Griffin has spent years rooted in the culture of Black genius and the legacy of books that her father left her. A beloved professor, she has devoted herself to passing these works and their wisdom on to generations of students.

Here, she shares a lifetime of discoveries: the ideas that inspired the stunning oratory of Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X, the soulful music of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, the daring literature of Phillis Wheatley and Toni Morrison, the inventive artistry of Romare Bearden, and many more. Exploring these works through such themes as justice, rage, self-determination, beauty, joy, and mercy allows her to move from her aunt’s love of yellow roses to Gil Scott-Heron’s "Winter in America."

Griffin entwines memoir, history, and art while she keeps her finger on the pulse of the present, asking us to grapple with the continuing struggle for Black freedom and the ongoing project that is American democracy. She challenges us to reckon with our commitment to all the nation’s inhabitants and our responsibilities to all humanity.

Farah Jasmine Griffin is professor of African American and African diaspora studies and English and comparative literature at Columbia University. The author of numerous books and the recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in New York.

Linda Chavers is a writer with numerous articles in The Boston Globe, Elle, The Guardian, Gawker, Rumpus and The Independent. Formerly a lecturer in African American Studies at Harvard University and assistant professor at Temple University Linda's pedagogical style explores the roots of contemporary sexual violence, and of resistance to it, in American slavery and in the life and work of Harriet Jacobs. As an educator and advocate she has received many awards including a special commendation for “Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times” by Harvard College in Spring 2020 and is currently turning her award-winning seminar on Black women into a coursebook with Women's  Press. Linda currently works as a Managing Associate for Storbeck Search -- a leading executive search firm that prioritizes diversity and equity in senior leadership. She earned her Ph.D. in African and African-American Studies from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies from New York University.

PURCHASE Read Until You Understand from our partner, Harvard Book Store.

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