Cleveland Public Library’s Writers & Readers series returns on September 24 to welcome broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien in conversation with rapper and political activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render. The event, which is part of the Library’s 150th anniversary celebration, also highlights a new mission for the Writers & Readers series: to bring together authors, performers, journalists, activists, and educators to discuss the books and stories that influenced their lives.
“At Cleveland Public Library, we celebrate literature and the profound effect it can have on people’s lives,” says Felton Thomas Jr., Executive Director and CEO. “Our Writers & Readers series invites renowned authors and public figures to share which books have mattered most to them and why. These are high-profile, real conversations that explore the stories that shape us. We hope our patrons find these conversations inspiring—and that they’ll walk away with a few new book recommendations, too.”
As professionals who speak widely about our nation’s political landscape, particularly regarding race, diversity, social inequality, and marginalized populations, O’Brien and Killer Mike promise a thought-provoking conversation to kick off the Library’s Writers & Readers series.
O’Brien is an award-winning journalist and host of the weekly syndicated political show Matter of Fact. A champion of diversity, she gives voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America. Additionally, O’Brien is a contributing editor for PBS NewsHour; a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel; the founder of PowHERful, a foundation that mentors and funds college tuition for young women; and author of the acclaimed memoir The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities.
Michael Render, known professionally as “Killer Mike,” is a Grammy award-winning rapper and actor whose album Run the Jewels 2 was named Best Rap Album of 2014 by Rolling Stone. As a featured speaker in MIT’s Hip Hop Speaker Series, Killer Mike lectured on topics including music, misogyny, community activism, cultural appropriation, social media, and police brutality. His documentary series, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, premiered on Netflix in 2019. In 2016, he shared with Rolling Out three books he believes every black person under 30 should read: Momma Black Widow by Robert Beck (Ice Berg Slim); Black Reconstruction by W.E.B. Du Bois; and Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
O’Brien and Killer Mike’s Writers & Readers appearance is held in conjunction with Cleveland Book Week, an annual series of events promoting Cleveland as a literary destination while celebrating the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, the only American book prize for works addressing racism and diversity. Cleveland Book Week is presented by the Cleveland Foundation, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, and various local partners, including Cleveland Public Library.
“The Anisfield-Wolf Books Awards exists to find and celebrate the best books that confront racism and explore human diversity, and we’re proud of our long partnership with Cleveland Public Library,” says Karen R. Long, manager, Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards at the Cleveland Foundation. “We’re especially pleased that this year as part of Cleveland Book Week the Library—as it celebrates 150 years of convening us to celebrate and cherish the written word—now sets the table for Soledad O’Brien and Killer Mike to engage Cleveland in a stimulating, book-rich conversation.”
O’Brien and Killer Mike will appear at 6:00 p.m. on September 24 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center, located at 1855 Ansel Road. A book signing will follow the discussion. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at case.edu/maltzcenter. Free parking will be designated for ticket holders.