Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is a novel that tells multiple stories, in multiple voices, about two half sisters and their descendants in Ghana and the U.S. While these characters’ lives may seem far removed from 21st-century Watertown, their humanity speaks across centuries and continents to our own deeply human fears and hopes. Their history is our history, and confronting it—along with the painful legacies of slavery, colonialism, and racism—is the goal of the WFPL’s 2017 One Book, One Watertown program.
Join us in March for events and discussions that will explore the historical and cultural touchpoints of the book while also looking at the current state of race relations in the U.S.
Pick up a copy of Homegoing at the library. (We have large print copies, audiobooks, and ebooks available, as well as supporting non-fiction material!) Read it, then share it with a neighbor, family member, teacher, or friend. We welcome all of Watertown to join the conversation.
One Book, One Watertown Events Series
Wednesday, March 1 | 7 p.m.
Join us for a community book discussion. All are welcome.
Photographer Khabeer Sultan’s An American Experience celebrates the brilliance and complexities of black men and men of color, while challenging stereotypes in American history and mainstream media. His work has been profiled in The Boston Globe, Bay State Banner, and Metro.
Documentary: Alice’s Ordinary People
Thursday, March 2 | 6:30 p.m.
Alice’s Ordinary People, featured on the NPR program “The Story with Dick Gordon,” is a documentary about Alice Tregay, an unsung heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. Her remarkable story spans the historic period from marches with Martin Luther King, Jr. to the election of Barack Obama. Her many contributions to the struggle through grassroots activism is the thread which connects the two.
Meet Craig Dudnick and learn why and how he came to make the film, and the circumstances in Chicago which drew Alice to the Civil Rights Movement. A discussion will follow the screening. Free and open to the public.
How to Talk About Slavery and Racism in 2017
Thursday, March 9 | 7 p.m.
Former Rhode Island State Representative Ray Rickman will speak about the history of slavery in New England and the current state of race relations.
Documentary: Can We Talk? Learning from Boston's Busing/Desegregation Crisis
Saturday, March 11 | 2 p.m.
Screening of documentary about the Boston busing crisis. The film will be introduced by Horace Small, founder and Executive Director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, who commissioned the film, to talk about why they commissioned it, and how it was received.
Concert: Uptown String Quartet (cancelled)
Sunday, March 12 | 2 p.m.
Concert: Piano Phil DeVille
Sunday, March 12 | 2 p.m.
We’ll take a musical journey through the sounds of the Harlem Renaissance. From Eubie Blake’s Ragtime stylings, through early Boogie, and onto the titans of Harlem Stride: Willie “The Lion” Smith, Fats Waller, and James P. Johnson. Homegoing's Willie walks past marquees advertising Duke Ellington, and she describes the floor show at the legendary Cotton Club, as she yearns for an opportunity to sing on that stage. Jazz was in the air, and hope was in her heart. Accompanied by Scott Aruda on trumpet, Piano Phil DeVille will bring Willie’s Harlem to glorious life through the music of the era.
A Taste of Ghana: Food Sampling (Tickets Required) and Panel Discussion: Race in Our Community
Rescheduled for Wednesday, April 5 | Sampling at 6:30 p.m.
Discussion begins at 7 p.m.
- Mel Poindexter
- Reg Gibson
- Tristan Lawson
- Rebecca Shay Hyland
- Caroline Bays
Moderator: Mark Harris -- Mark W. Harris is in his twentieth year as minister of the First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist. He has been active in the community especially as a founder of both the World in Watertown, and the Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast, of which he was chair for thirteen years. He also is an Adjunct Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Andover Newton Theological School. He is interested in the intersection of race and class, and has written a book called Elite: Uncovering Classism in Unitarian Universalist History.
Saturday, March 18 | 2 p.m.
Please join us for a screening and community discussion of Ava DuVernay’s stunning, Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, hosted by Nat Harrison.
Nat Harrison returned to the U.S. in September 2014 after many years living and working as a journalist in France and elsewhere overseas. He and his wife, Margaret, are now settled in Watertown, and he serves on the Board of Boston’s Criminal Justice Policy Coalition. His particular interest is a CJPC initiative that would abolish legislation imposing life without the possibility of parole sentences in Massachusetts, replacing it with language mandating parole review after 25 years of incarceration.
Drum to the Beat: The Rhythms of Ghana
Saturday, March 25 | 2-4 p.m.
2-3 p.m. Adults only
3-4 p.m. All ages welcome!
Percussionist Otha Day will lead a drum circle featuring Ghanaian rhythms starting with an hour of exploration and learning for adults, then followed by an hour that’s open to families and kids for loads of drumming fun!
Mondays | 6:30 p.m.
Our Movie Mondays throughout the month will feature films that explore the African and/or African-American experience.
If you're looking for more reading material, please check out our Selected Bibliography of Suppressed Voices.