14 Jul Recap: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson gives lecture at the CCPL library with The Presidents’ Council
In partnership with the Cuyahoga County Public Library, the Presidents’ Council presented Michael Eric Dyson, award-winning author and one of America’s premier public intellectuals. He occupies the distinguished position of University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. On Monday, June 5th at the Parma-Snow Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Dyson delivered a public lecture discussing his book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. The Presidents’ Council was the sponsoring organization for this event and hosted a private pre-show reception prior to Mr. Dyson’s lecture
The Presidents’ Council Board Members, invited guests, and guests of the library, had the opportunity to meet Dr. Dyson and engage in one-on-one conversations with him over great food and drinks provided by Chef Eric Wells of Sky LaRaes Catering. Dyson also took pictures and signed copies of his book, which were available for purchase throughout the library.
Special guests were then led down to the main auditorium for Mr. Dyson’s public lecture. Ed Blakemore, President of the Board of Trustees of the Cuyahoga County Public Library welcomed guests and thanked The Presidents’ Council for their sponsorship of the evening’s events. Erica C. Penick, Director of Operations for The Presidents’ Council, introduced Michael Eric Dyson and Mr. Bakari Kitwana, fellow author, journalist, activist, political analyst and the current Senior Media Fellow at the Harvard Law based think tank, The Jamestown Project, who guided the evening’s discussion.
Kitwana jumped right into the discussion, asking Dyson to compare the emergence of black political power during the Civil Rights era, to its modern resurgence as seen in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Dyson noted that the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was the tragic death of Emmet Till in 1955. This is similar to the modern day Black Lives Matter movement, which was sparked by the unjust death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. It was these types of blatant injustices that have enraged the African American community and ignited a collective move to action. Other topics that were discussed included the importance of leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, the effect of white flight and gentrification on Black neighborhoods, and how the 2016 election was a white counterattack to having a Black President.
Kitwana closed out the discussion by asking Dr. Dyson ”What made you write this book and why did you write it in the style a sermon?” Dyson paused for a short while, looked at the audience and passionately stated,”… we stand up we get shot, we sit down we get shot, we protest we get shot, we wear a hoodie we get shot. The tears tell the story of our suffering being Black in America.” He then followed up with, “I wrote this book because I got tired of turning on the news and seeing my black people getting shot for nothing. I had written many drafts and kept hitting a wall. I struggled to find a way to describe the pain and agony that Black people face today until one night it hit me. I should write this like a sermon because I am a preacher and in times like this you need to come from a place of faith to connect with people.”
The night concluded with Dr. Dyson answering a few questions from the audience. Bill Kelly, CCPL Adult Services Manager thanked all guests for their attendance. Erica C. Penick thanked everyone for their participation; and discussed upcoming PC events, our Annual Golf Outing and Business Conference. Once again, we would like to thank all that came out to the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s lecture with renowned author Michael Eric Dyson. Copies of Tears We Cannot Stop are available for rental via the CCPL website.