Jun 22, 2007

Diversity Council continues to fight “Love” and racism with new book club

The Livingston 2001 Diversity Council’s newly formed book club will hold its second meeting at 7 p.m. July 17 at the Colorado Coffee House, 4140 E Grand River Ave. in Genoa Township, to discuss its next selection, “We are all welcome here,” by Elizabeth Berg.

The club was formed in May, and it held its first meeting at the Brighton Borders to discuss “The Color of Water,” by James McBride. The club was formed in direct response to a censorship and book banning effort by a small, but vocal group that generated some national attention and negative publicity to Livingston County.

The anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) waged a misguided attempt to censor and ban “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five” from Howell High School’s curriculum. The campaign only ended in March after the group managed to actually get the FBI and the local prosecutor to look into the matter.

The Livingston 2001 Diversity Council was formed in 1988 in response to a cross burning in the yard of a back family in Livingston County, and the group that formed to foster understanding and fight racism was initially called Livingston 2001. It was so named because the children in kindergarten when the ugly incident occurred would be graduating from high school in 2001, and hopefully, entering a world where that kind of hate and prejudice was just an ugly footnote in history. It’s a grass roots organization made up of business people, private citizens, educators, government officials and clergy who live or work in Livingston County with the mission of making the community ever more welcoming, harmonious and prosperous for people of all races, creeds and backgrounds. A few years ago it changed its name to reflect its mission after 2001, and it has sponsored a series of events aimed at fostering acceptance and understanding of other cultures, ethnic groups and races.

I really enjoyed reading the first book, “The Color of Water,” and it was amazing to marvel at the inner strength of a Jewish woman who was able to raise 12 African- American children, on her own for the most part, to see them all become college graduates and lead successful lives. She did this in a time when mixed marriages were almost unheard of and frowned upon. She herself was able to graduate from Temple University after her children were raised. I am looking forward to jumping into “We are all welcome here.”

The council would also prefer that those who plan to attend notify the council so that they may plan accordingly, but again, anyone is welcome. You can do so by email at membersite@livingstondiversity.com.

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