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The MSAAHCC is pleased to host a Reading & Discussion Series with sponsorship from Humanities for NY. This free series will allow participants to dive deeply into the works of James Baldwin through a series of facilitated conversations with local scholars and educators.


The weekly series will take place every Wednesday from October 5 through November 9 at 6PM at the Central Downtown Library and the Frank E. Merriweather Library. Copies of the books will be provided to all participants. 

  • October 5, 6 PM - 7:00 PM, Downtown Central Library with Dr. Cameron Herman, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Buffalo State College. His research focuses on understanding the ways marginalized groups experience and navigate inequality in urban environments. He recently published work on Black artists’ response to gentrification in Houston and residents’ extra-political activism to neoliberal governance. 

  • October 12,  6 PM - 7:00 PM, Downtown Central Library with Dr. James Ponzo, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana and American Studies. His research engages the rich cultural tradition and literary accomplishments of African-American Culture and Literature in the United States

  • October 19,  6 PM - 7:00 PM, Frank E. Merriweather Library with Sharon Holley owner of Zawadi Books. Sharon is a storyteller and retired Librarian who hails from High Springs, FL.  For 34 years she was employed by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. With her husband, Kenneth they own Zawadi Books at 1382 Jefferson Ave.

  • October 26,  6 PM - 7:00 PM, Frank E. Merriweather Library  with Gary Early Ross, a retired UB/EOC language arts professor. His works include the short story collections The Wheel of Desire (2000) and Shimmerville (2002); the children’s tale, Dots (2002); the historical novel Blackbird Rising (2009); and the stage plays Sleepwalker (2002), Picture Perfect (2007), The Best Woman (2007), Murder Squared (2010), The Scavenger’s Daughter (2012), The Mark of Cain (2014), The Guns of Christmas (2014), and Matter of Intent, winner of the 2006 Edgar Allan Poe Award from Mystery Writers of America.

  • November 2,  6 PM - 7:00 PM, Frank E. Merriweather Library with Shelia Martin, a  recently retired as Professor of English and Coordinator of the Honors Program at SUNY (Erie). At SUNY Erie she developed and taught two classes in African American Literature:
    EN 215, a survey of Africana literature from its inception to the Harlem Renaissance and
    EN 216, which examines of Africana literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. The works of James Baldwin, in particular, “Sonny’s Blues” is a mainstay among the works examined in the course. Last year, Martin spearheaded a program with select high schools within the Buffalo School District to offer college level classes in African American literature. Now in its second year, the program has grown from four to eight schools.

  • November 9,  6 PM - 7:00 PM, Frank E. Merriweather Library with co-facilitators Dr. Nicole Morris Johnson & Dr. Miriam Thaggert. Dr. Morris Johnson, Assistant Professor of English at UB, teaches and researches African American and Caribbean literature, performance, life writing, and archival practices. Her current book project examines the impact that the South had upon Black women’s artistic expression throughout the 20th century. Dr. Miriam Thaggert is a scholar of African American literature, history and culture at UB. Her most recent book is a literary and social history of Black women and the American train, Riding Jane Crow: African American Women on the American Railroad.

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