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Quincy Public Library is one of 78 institutions nationwide chosen to participate in NEA Big Read this year, receiving a federal grant of $15,000. This initiative is from The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
“It is truly an honor for Quincy to be chosen by the NEA to host this program again this year,” said QPL Executive Director Kathleen Helsabeck. “The goal is to create a community conversation and broaden our understanding by reading a book together.”
This year’s NEA Big Read: Quincy book is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. A Lesson Before Dying poses a universal question: Knowing we’re going to die, how should we live? It’s the story of an uneducated young black man named Jefferson, accused of the murder of a white storekeeper, set in 1940s Louisiana. For younger readers, QPL has selected The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis and Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter.
Grant money and additional sponsorships will help fund over 45 programs in February and over 3,600 books, which QPL will distribute to the community. The festivities will begin with Kickoff on Jan. 30 from 4 to 6:30 pm. QPL is pleased to welcome Mr. John Hanlon as the keynote speaker. Hanlon is the Executive Director of the Illinois Innocence Project. The Messengers and Square Peg Troupe will also perform. The community is invited to pick up their free book at kickoff.
“This is truly a month-long community celebration, and we’ve tried to bring as many partners as possible on to share in this book and promote literacy in our community,” said Helsabeck.
Partners include Quincy Public and Parochial school teachers who are teaching the books in their classrooms, The Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, The Quincy Art Center, The Human Rights Commission, John Wood Community College, Quincy University, the Great River Genealogical Society, and many businesses in the District.
Some notable programs throughout the month include:
In A Lesson Before Dying, Gaines presents a sympathetic defendant who has come to accept his reality. Today, the same defendant would be treated to a very different investigation, trial, and possibly a different outcome. Modern readers will compare and contrast the legal safeguards of the past with those of the present during this lecture. Basic presumptions will be scrutinized, trial methods will be discussed, and justice will be examined within the concepts of race, time, and equality. Presented by Professor P. Charles Entzminger, MSCJ, JD, an Assistant Professor of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration at Western Illinois University.
Join us for this four-part series on Diversity and Inclusion led by the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce D&I Committee. These sessions will help individuals look for ways to form actionable steps to embrace D&I in our daily lives surrounding discussion of A Lesson Before Dying.
Join us for an evening of celebration and education as we learn about and sing along to African-American Spirituals presented by professional storyteller, Mett Morris. These songs are considered to be the foundation of the black experience during the height of slavery. This program will feature lecture, concert, and sing-a-long, followed by a question and answer session. Families are welcome.
When the state executes someone, it claims the authority to do something that ordinarily would be highly immoral, killing someone. Dr. J. K. Miles, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Quincy University, considers questions around the morality of the death penalty as a concept and as an institution.
Join us for a screening of the documentary After Innocence, followed by a talkback session presented by the Human Rights Commission. The documentary is a gripping, emotionally charged film that follows wrongfully convicted men freed by DNA evidence after decades in prison as they struggle to transition back into society.
Enjoy the foodways of Creole culture at this celebration of Cajun cooking on Saturday, Feb. 8. Learn how to prepare a classic gumbo and southern style cornbread, staples of Southern cuisine, at this cooking class just for teens. Teens will have an opportunity to sample the fruits of their labor at the end of the program. This program is presented as part of the NEA Big Read celebration of the novel, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.
Teens are invited to join the Teen Advisory Board for a presentation on bullying presented by Kathy Nelson from Chaddock Alternative School. She will speak on self-esteem for individuals. She will also discuss valuing others and managing bullies, examining themes from NEA Big Read: Quincy books.
Using the style of President Barack Obama’s portrait painter, teens are invited to bring their creative side to this collage mixed media workshop sponsored by the QPL in partnership with the Quincy Art Center. An instructor from the Art Center will guide you through the process of selecting materials to design a compelling composition that is meaningful to you. Bring photos from home and tell your story; past, present, and future using the vibrant colors of Mr. Wiley’s compositions.
All QPL programs are free and open to the public. Several businesses in The District will be hosting NEA Big Read: Quincy specials in February and several community partners will also be partnering to host NEA Big Read: Quincy events including:
Support for this program is provided by these generous sponsors: National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, Friends of the Quincy Public Library, Blessing Health System, Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund through the Community Foundation Service West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri, Quincy Noon Kiwanis Royal Printing, State Street Bank, and First Mid-Illinois Bank. For more information about NEA Big Read: Quincy, and for a complete list of programs, visit quincylibrary.org or call 217-223-1309.