Library discussions to focus on ’African American experience’

Chad Frey
Marchers head to the courthouse during the "Justice for Matt" walk on June 3 in Newton.

Following social justice protests sweeping across the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, Newton Public Library is focusing August book discussions on the Black Experience.

Newton saw two events hosted — a protest on Main Street and a memorial gathering in Centennial Park.

The library will host three discussions in July — one for teens, one for mystery lovers and the Third Thursday book discussion open to adults.

“All three selections focus on the African American experience,” said Sam Jack, public relations and special services supervisor for Newton Public Library.

The library will use a mixture of online and in-person experiences for the three book discussions. All books are available for reservation or checkout through the library website,, or though the limited opening of the library.

“Right now, the plan is to hold the Teen Book Discussion and Third Thursday Book Discussion online via Zoom. Weather permitting, [the library] would like to try holding the Mystery Lovers discussion outdoors in Military Park, with participants social distancing and bringing their own lawn chairs,” Jack said. “You are welcome to borrow the books regardless of whether you can attend the discussions.”

• Teen Book Discussion, 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1: “Black Brother, Black Brother,” by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This is a powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as Black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition. Teens and tweens are invited to participate in the discussion. Discussion led by Sharon Cepeda.

• Mystery Lovers Book Discussion, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5: “Down the River Unto the Sea,” by Walter Mosley. Joe King Oliver, a Black ex-cop, is running a private detective agency when he receives a card in the mail from a woman who admits that, years ago, someone in the NYPD paid her to frame him for assault. He realizes he has no choice but to take up his own case. Discussion led by Dan Eells.

• Third Thursday Book Discussion, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20: “The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead. Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this novel tells the story of Elwood Curtis, a Black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, Fla. When Elwood is unfairly sentenced to a reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years. Discussion led by Sam Jack.

For more information call the library at 316-283-2890.

"Black Brother, Black Brother," by Jewell Parker Rhodes, will be the topic of NPL's Teen Book Discussion at 10 a.m.  Aug. 1.