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
Sunday, March 12 | 2 p.m.
We’re pleased to welcome Phakamani Pega, a local violinist and Berklee graduate from South Africa. Phakamani is an instructor, composer and arranger whose colorful harmonic arrangements together with the vivid melodies of South African music elevate the human spirit to great joy and renewed hope. Through music he shares the stories of South Africa: the struggle for liberation, the attainment of freedom, the myriad songs and dances of tribal celebrations, painting a rich musical image of South Africa. Phakamani will be performing with his Berklee friends.
A Taste of Ghana: Food Sampling (Tickets Required) and Panel Discussion: Race in Our Community
Tuesday, March 14 | Sampling at 6:30 p.m.
Discussion begins at 7 p.m.
First, we’ll gather together to sample some of the foods of West Africa from Safari African Restaurant. Then the Reverend Mark Harris will moderate a panel discussion on race in our community. Panelists thus far include:
- 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.