Freedom to Read Presentation and Roundtable (In-Person)

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Program Description

Event Details

This event is also being presented virtually. To attend the virtual session, register HERE.

This summer Mcbride returns with his signature hope, humor, and humanity in his bestselling novel, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. 


All in-person attendees will receive a complimentary copy of The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.


Join with librarians, publishers, authors and your community in supporting the essential right to read at the Freedom to Read Presentation and Roundtable, presented in partnership by the Howard County Library System (HCLS) and the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo).

At 1:30 PM, come to the Miller Branch for thoughtful discussion and readings by distinguished award-winning poets and publishers Grace Cavalieri and Truth Thomas, and stay to watch and participate in the virtual Roundtable panel discussion at 2:30 PM with award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter James McBride, Washington Post satirist and author Alexandra Petri, renowned historian and author Dr. Richard Bell, and American Library Association President Emily Drabinski.

(Read the entire American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement here.) 

This event will be free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. 


In-Person Presenters at 1:30 PM:

Grace Cavalieri: is an American poet, playwright, and radio host of the Library of Congress program “The Poet and the Poem.” In 2019, she was appointed the tenth Poet Laureate of Maryland.

Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Washington, DC. He studied creative writing at Howard University and earned his MFA in poetry at New England College. His collections include Party of Black, A Day of Presence, Bottle of Life and Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.


Virtual Roundtable Panelists at 2:30 PM: 

James McBride is a national bestselling, award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water (1996), has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list. His 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American abolitionist John Brown, won the National Book Award for Fiction. His bestselling novel Miracle at St. Anna was adapted into a film by Spike Lee. In 2015, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama “for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America.” 

Alexandra Petri is a humorist and columnist for The Washington Post. She studied English and classics at Harvard and has received the National Press Club Angele Gingras Award for Humor Writing and the Shorty Award, been recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 and in the Fifty Funniest People Right Now (Rolling Stone).

Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2021-2023) and has held research fellowships at more than two dozen libraries and institutes including residencies at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance at Yale University and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Emily Drabinski is the current President of the American Library Association and Associate Professor at the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.

Please register with an email address to receive an immediate registration confirmation.