How do you start a community conversation about the difficult topic of race? An incident on an Oyster River School bus last fall triggered an intense period of reflection in the community. School district employees participated in diversity training, and hundreds of people attended a diversity forum at the high school. Rather than making that the end of the story, many asked how we could continue to engage the entire Oyster River Community. Since the Community Church of Durham in conjunction with other organizations had already scheduled a community reading event, there was a perfect pathway forward. The books provide a common point to allow people to get together and talk.
For Adults, they chose Debby Irvings book Waking Up White. The book explores race, culture, and diversity through the personal story of a New Englander whose move from suburbia to the city
led her on a journey of self discovery.
For younger residents, they chose Jacqueline Woodson's poetic autobiography Brown Girl Dreaming. Woodson tells the story of a young African-American girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a time of Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement. She split her childhood between New York and South Carolina and presents two very different snapshots of American History.
You can find a schedule of the book discussion events at orcread.org. Author Debby Irving
will be in town April 16th for a community dinner and talk at Oyster River High School. In addition, a variety of other activities including lectures, films, and art workshops have been added. The broad selection is intended to engage as many people as possible. The final event on May 3rd will be a conversation on the next steps needed to sustain a fair and equitable community.
Copies of the books are available at the Durham Public Library, Durham Book Exchange, and at local bookstores. Grab a copy and get involved!