The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle 2020 started in the middle of a pandemic and massive protests because of a police officer kneeling on a Black man for almost nine minutes until he died.
The circle ranges from rising 6th grade to rising 12th grade.
All of them are African American and live in spaces all over the country.
They are all trying to find meaning in what is happening. Literature has become the place where they have connected to read their way to freedom.
Several of them live in spaces were protest took place and like many, their parents were struggling between allowing them to go out and lift their voice and the need to keep them free from a deadly virus that has killed so many Black people, regardless of age.
The only other year we have had in The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle with this much underlying tension was in the summer after Trayvon Martin and summer after Mike Brown. Ironically, before we knew this summer would be markers of the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a young African American woman slaughtered in her sleep, we had the issue of police brutality on the reading list. Dear Martin by Nic Stone is the book we will be discussing tomorrow.
Reading our way to freedom is in line with some of the demands rising up from big cities, suburbs, and small towns – that Black lives be centered in education in ways they have never been before. One of the circle members raised concerns that her suburb held a march but it seemed performative so they wouldn’t be “left out” of the national narrative. She wants to challenge them to put that march into action. That is what all the circle members discussed on June 2nd.
We are covering two Nic Stone books, both contemporary, both featuring the emotional lives of African American boys.
Clean Getaway and Dear Martin can be ordered by Amazon, of course, but consider ordering from our friends at Mahogany Books or EyeseeMe Bookstore.
What are you reading for freedom?
The literary circle is for Afrodiasporan teens to gather in a culturally relevant setting to make connections with the stories to their real lives. This year, the circle is free and is meeting virtually.
Contact Founder and Executive Director, Ms. Antona via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @lattegriot.