During the month of September, East Georgia State College and its community partners will celebrate the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant was awarded in May of this year, and events free and open to the public are scheduled throughout the month.
The selected book for the local Big Read is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Each event will be thematically tied to the novel, which is set in 1940s Louisiana. A Lesson Before Dying opens as a judge sentences a young man, Jefferson, to death by electrocution. The sole survivor of a liquor store shooting, he is convicted of murder and relies on visits from the local teacher, Grant Wiggins, to face his fate with dignity. The novel confronts death and social injustice through the growing bond of two men from a small community who both fight the limitations of their surroundings.
The Big Read will begin with a Kickoff Event on September 6 beginning at 6 p.m. at the EGSC Gymnasium. The kickoff will feature children’s story time activities, and attendees can pick up a free copy of the book, and enjoy a free Cajun meal (while supplies last.)
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, there will be a Community Adult Book Discussion led by Dr. Alan Brasher, Professor of English at EGSC. The discussion will be held at the Sudie A. Fulford Community Learning Center from 12 – 1 p.m. and will allow adults in the community to discuss the novel’s major themes. Everyone is encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch.
September 8, the Stand Tall: Art of Strength exhibit will open at the EGSC Library. This collection will feature original artwork from students of all ages, faculty, staff and community members. Submissions will be accepted at the EGSC Library through September 6. The opening and reception will begin at 5:30 p.m.
There will be a book discussion for EGSC students on September 13 beginning at 11 a.m. in the EGSC Heritage Center, located in the library. EGSC students are invited to come discuss A Lesson Before Dying with Jessica Palumbo, Assistant Professor of English. The event is sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa and is open to all EGSC and Southeastern Technical College students.
On September 14, the Big Read, Small Talk lecture series will begin with the topic “Gaines: A Cultural Perspective.” Dr. Ren Denton, Assistant Professor of English at EGSC, will discuss the implications of the novel on social culture from the Jim Crow era to today, including the Black Lives Matter movement. The event is open to students, faculty, staff and all community members, and will be held in the Luck F. Gambrell Building at 1 p.m.
September 20 will see the Big Read, Small Talk lecture series continue with Dr. Jeffery Howell, Assistant Professor of History at EGSC, taking on the topic “Life Under Jim Crow: 1890-1940.” This talk will explore the lives of African Americans during the Jim Crow era in the American South and discuss the impact this had on the characters of A Lesson Before Dying. Open to all, the event begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Luck F. Gambrell Building.
Franklin Memorial Library will be the host of the September 21 event Big Read on the Small Screen for Teens. The library will host a showing of the 1999 film version of A Lesson Before Dying starring Don Cheadle, Cicely Tyson and Mekhi Phifer beginning at 3:30 p.m. All community teens are welcome!
Convocation is held every year at East Georgia State College, and this year’s event will be September 22 at 11 a.m. in the Luck F. Gambrell Building auditorium. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Marcia Gaudet, Professor of English Emerita and former Director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center. This event is open to the entire community, so don’t miss out!
Tuesday, Sept. 27, Franklin Memorial Library will again open its doors, this time to the entire community as it presents Big Read on the Big Screen once more, this time for all to enjoy. The movie will begin at 7 p.m.
On September 28, join local attorney Franklin Edenfield at the Luck F. Gambrell Building for the last of the Big Read, Small Talk lecture series, “The Evolution of Criminal Justice in the South.” Beginning at 11 a.m., Edenfield will discuss the legal environment of the United States throughout history from the 1940s to today as it relates to the capital case in A Lesson Before Dying and its far-reaching ramifications on today’s legal society.
Also on September 28, Franklin Memorial Library’s Teen Book Club will hold a meeting at 4 p.m. at Franklin Memorial Library to discuss A Lesson Before Dying. Teen Book Club is open to grades 6 – 12. For more information, contact Barb Moore, Assistant Manager of Franklin Memorial Library, at 478-237-7791 or see http://strl.info/Swainsboro-library/.
Closing out the Big Read, September 30 will feature Big Read and a Little Jazz with the Fabulous Equinox Jazz Orchestra Quintet at 7 p.m. in the Luck F. Gambrell Building auditorium. This evening of New Orleans-style jazz will feature the Savannah-based Fabulous Equinox Jazz Orchestra and an overview of the NEA Big Read’s impact on our community. For more information on the Equinox Jazz Orchestra, visit www.EquinoxOrchestra.com. The event is open to all faculty, staff, students and members of the community and is sponsored in part by the Mill Creek Foundation and the EGSC Vision Series.
As you can see, September will be a busy month for East Georgia State College and the community. Join us in reading Ernest J. Gaines’s novel A Lesson Before Dying, and make sure to participate in all of the great Big Read activities happening this month!
EGSC has been awarded a grant to host the NEA Big Read in Swainsboro.
Don’t miss the NEA Big Read kickoff event!
Submit your pieces for the upcoming Stand Tall: The Art of Strength art exhibition.