Writers & Readers 2021

Cleveland Public Library series brings together authors, performers, journalists, activists, and educators to discuss the issues impacting our communities. For the first time, a virtual workshop will accompany each Writers & Readers event to give participants a platform to seek greater understanding and find common ground to issues facing our city.

These events are free and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to register. Due to precautions for COVID-19, all events will be held via Zoom.

John McWhorter & Coleman Hughes

Black America: Owning Your Future

John McWhorter

John McWhorter is author of more than a dozen books including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. In 2016 he published Words on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally). He also regularly contributes to newspapers and magazines including The New Republic, Time, and The Atlantic, including his article on how immigrants change languages and an essay on policing the “N-word.”

Coleman Hughes

Coleman Hughes writes about race, public policy, and applied ethics and hosts the podcast Conversations with Coleman which he describes “as a platform that champions free speech, free thought, and open debate – values that I believe play a pivotal role in a liberal society.”  After briefly attending the Juilliard School to study jazz trombone, he dropped out and began to pursue a career as an independent jazz/hip-hop artist while attending Columbia University, only to discover a passion for applied ethics and public policy, graduating with a B.A. in philosophy.  He is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, an opinion columnist on issues related to race and racism at the online magazine Quillette, as well as a fellow and contributing editor at City Journal. He has been named one of Forbes 30 under 30 for 2021 for his work in media including conversations around race, slavery, and reparations. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021 | 12:00PM

Reparations: A Path to Healing

A Writers & Readers Workshop with YWCA Greater Cleveland

Once we know how much damage has been done, how do we begin to move forward and heal? YWCA Greater Cleveland’s President & CEO Margaret Mitchell believes that reparations is a key piece of the answer. Join this discussion about the long history of reparations, how some communities have already implemented reparations on a smaller scale, the landmark piece of legislation, House Bill 40, which, if passed, would establish a federal commission to study and develop reparations proposals and begin a national reckoning and a path towards restorative justice.

Thursday, June 17 | 4:30 p.m. via Zoom

Jelani Cobb & Heather McGhee

Understanding Policing in the 21st Century

Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2012 and became a staff writer in 2015. He writes frequently about race, politics, history, and culture and won the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, for his columns on race, the police, and injustice.  He is the author of several books: The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress (2015), To the Break of Dawn: a Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (2007), and The Devil and Dave Chapelle (2007).

Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Her upcoming book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together is now available for pre-order from One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Her 2020 TED talk, “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just two months online. In the coming year, she will launch two original podcasts on the economy and on how to create cross-racial solidarity in challenging times.

Saturday, February 27, 2021 | 12:00PM

Workshop: Understanding Policing in the 21st Century

Presented by Terry Gilbert and Gordon Friedman

Famed civil rights and criminal defense lawyers Terry Gilbert and Gordon Friedman discuss the current moment in which policing and criminal justice remain under a brighter spotlight than ever. Their personal and professional historical perspectives put today’s events in context and provide insight into potential paths to a more just future. 

Audience Q&A with the speakers will follow their conversation.

Wednesday, February 24 | 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Eddie Glaude, Jr. & Caroline Randall Williams

Importance of Civic Education and Engagement

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Eddie Glaude, Jr. is a columnist for TIME and an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe, and Deadline Whitehouse with Nicolle Wallace. He also regularly appears on Meet the Press on Sundays. Glaude hosts the podcast AAS 21, recorded at Princeton University in Stanhope Hall, the African American Studies department’s home.

Glaude’s most recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, was released on June 30, 2020. 

Caroline Randall Williams

Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual, performance artist, and scholar. She joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2019 as a Writer-in-Residence in Medicine, Health, and Society while she continues to work and speak to the places where art, business, and scholarship intersect, moving people closer to their best lives and corporations closer to their ideal identities. Caroline’s first book, The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess (co-authored with Alice Randall) won the Harlem Book Fair’s Phillis Wheatley Prize and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. Her second co-authored volume, Soul Food Love won the NAACP Image Award. Her book of poetry, Lucy Negro Redux, earned rave reviews and became a ballet in 2019.

Saturday, April 17, 2021 | 12:00PM

Civic Engagement as a Foundation for Life

Presented by Cleveland Leadership Center

Our interactive workshop continues the conversation that started at our April 17 Writers & Readers event with Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. and Caroline Randall Williams. The workshop features guest facilitators Marianne Crosley and Rachel Ciomcia from the Cleveland Leadership Center.

Learn tools and techniques to make meaningful change and build an appreciation for civic engagement. Collectively and individually, we can learn, explore, and actively engage in civic life in order to make our democracy stronger, more representative, and more resilient for generations to come.

Wednesday, April 21 | 4:30 – 6:00 PM

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