Anaheim Library will celebrate Black History Month by reading the Ernest J. Gaines’ 1993 novel “A Lesson Before Dying”, a gripping story about the heroism of resisting and defying the expected.
As part of the National Endowment of the Art’s Big Read program, the Anaheim community has selected Gaines’ novel for the 4th annual city-wide reading event.
The emotional tale is set in the late 1940s, in the fictional town of Bayonne, Louisiana and depicts the struggle of a young black man wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.
Gaines’ powerful writing provides a vivid historical perspective on the themes of identity, crime, and injustice in the United States. Inspired by his hometown, Gaines grew up in the post-slavery South in Oscar, Louisiana, where the underpinnings of slavery had not yet disappeared.
Anaheim Library will bring the story to life with Black History storytimes, discussion led by the California Innocence Project and a presentation exploring the founding of the Second Baptist church by the Heritage Museum of Orange County.
Residents can read “A Lesson Before Dying” and join in a series of literary and cultural events by Anaheim Public Library and other community groups, which takes place from Feb. 16 through March. 16.
Kick-off the month-long celebration with live jazz music, soul food by Georgia’s restaurant and the award-winning young adult author or guest speaker Brandy Colbert at Central Library on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.
Colbert’s second novel, “Little & Lion” is the winner of ALA’s 2018 Stonewall Book Award and was named ALA’s 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults. “Little & Lion” will be the teen companion book for “A Lesson Before Dying.” Copies of each book will be given away at the event and are available for unlimited eBook downloads.
Events are made possible by a $15,000 NEA Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that promotes the arts.
NEA Big Read book picks are designed to bring communities together through the shared experience of reading. This is the third year in a row that Anaheim Library has been awarded an NEA Big Read grant.