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The Trailblazer

July Summer Book Group

Posted 2:41 PM by
Jeff MacKnight will lead a discussion of two recent, notable books on two Sundays, July 17th and 23rd, from 9:50-10:35 a.m. in the parish hall: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. These much talked about books both touch on the African-American experience, and the ways human beings can ignore, exploit, and mistreat other human beings. Coates writes an open letter to his 15- year -old son, about being a black male. Skloot tells the story of a woman whose cells were harvested, multiplied, and spread around the world, without her knowledge or consent. Feel free to drop in on these discussions. 

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men-bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates's attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. 

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells-taken without her knowledge in 1951-became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. 

Watch the remake of the TV documentary Roots to provide additional background as we consider race in America. 


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