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Tag: Go Big Read

Bryan Stevenson: Winner of the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction

On Saturday, June 27th, at the annual American Library Association conference, Bryan Stevenson was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for nonfiction for his book Just Mercy.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established by the American Library Association in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at the ALA Annual Conference. Winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award and two finals in each category receive $1,500. The winner is chosen by a seven-member selection committee of library professionals from across the country who work closely with adult readers.

The awards were created in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The awards were created during the foundation’s centennial and in recognition of Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world.

On winning the award Stevenson had this to say: “I’m pretty overwhelmed. I’m thankful to you, for creating a space where something like this can happen to someone like me.”

He also spoke about libraries and books: “[They] get you to do some things and understand some things that you can’t otherwise understand. I wrote this book  because I was persuaded that if people saw what I see [regarding mass incarceration], they would insist on something being different.”

Watch a brief interview with Bryan Stevenson about winning the Andrew Carnegie Medal below.


To read more about the award ceremony click here.

For more information about the Andrew Carnegie Medal click here.

Find past winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medal here.

Helping the Poor in the Criminal Justice System

One of the focuses of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative’s work is helping the poor in the United States criminal justice system. Stevenson has asserted that in our current criminal justice system wealthy people fair better than poor people. The Constitution Project, a non-profit organization that works to build bipartisan consensus on significant constitutional and legal questions, explores this disparity in their film Defending Gideon.

In the film, the 1963 Gideon v. Wainwright case is highlighted. As a result of the case the United States Supreme Court ruled that states are required to provide counsel in criminal cases when defendants are unable to pay. According to Defending Gideon, 80% of people accused of a crime today cannot afford a lawyer. However the law is not perfect.  As was pointed out by Huntsville Times columnist, Stephen Stetson, in an editorial: “Federal law requires the states to provide attorneys for the poor, but it doesn’t specify how.” What this means is that all states are not created equal when it comes to appointing lawyers to defendants. In the film, Bryan Stevenson explains the problem this way:

 Rights and even court decisions don’t necessarily turn into realities for the people who are the intended beneficiaries, without implementation.

He further points out that problems with implementation are often structural. Some examples he points out are some states have too many cases, but not enough resources, some states appoint lawyers but don’t give lawyers adequate compensation so the lawyers are less able to prepare an adequate defense, and some states hire contract lawyers where the state bids on who will do the most cases for the least amount of money. Stevenson and The Constitution Project argue that these kinds of systems are flawed and disadvantage the poor.

To watch Defending Gideon click here.
To learn more about the Constitution Project click here.
To read Stephen Stetson’s Huntsville Times editorial click here.

Nevada Ends Life Without Parole For Children

James Dold, an advocate for this legislation from the nonprofit organization Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth had this to say: “Finally, Nevada law has caught up and recognizes that children are different than adults and those differences need to be taken into account.” The law goes into effect on October 1, 2015.At the end of May, Nevada became the 13th state to end life without parole sentences for offenders younger than 18. The bill was sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker John Hambrick, a Republican from Las Vegas, Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, a Republican from Las Vegas, and Assemblyman Pat Hickey, a Republican from Reno. The bill was passed by the state Legislature with a unanimous vote.

For more information click here.

To read more about the nonprofit organization the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth click here.

What Bryan Stevenson Learned from Ralph Ellison

This spring during the Los Angeles Festival of Books, the Los Angeles Times featured writers discussing their literary idols. Bryan Stevenson was one of those writers. He wrote about Ralph Ellison an how the book Invisible Man changed how he saw things.

Ellison taught me that sometimes a book can disrupt the relationship you have to the world around you and force you to demand more, seek more, expect more, experience more that is essential and important to what truly matters.

After reading Invisible Man, Stevenson noticed a change in how he viewed racially segregated society and made him more aware of the roles he maintained in that society. He used the wisdom he learned from the narrative in Invisible Man in writing his own book, Just Mercy.

After Invisible Man, I knew it existed; this place where words, narrative and language can get you close to truth and the powers that truth can activate.


Have any books impacted you the way Invisible Man impacted Bryan Stevenson? Who is your literary idol?

To read Stevenson’s article about Ellison click here.

To see if Just Mercy is available for check out at UW Madison Libraries click here.

To see if Invisible Man is available for check out at UW Madison Libraries click here.

Good Leadership is Key: Desmond Tutu on Bryan Stevenson and Malala Yousafzai

Desmond Tutu, South African humanitarian and social rights activist, discusses good leadership in a recent Vanity Fair article titled “Why Desond Tutu Thinks Bryan Stevenson is ‘Shaping the Moral Universe.'” In the article he commends two individuals he feels are leaders making a difference in the world today. The two leaders are Malala Yousafzai and Bryan Stevenson.

Tutu had this to say about good leaders:

Good leadership is key. Good leaders with the ability to identify the challenges and the tenacity to act on them.

He sees Stevenson as a “champion for justice” and Yousafzai as a champion of women of and girls’ rights.

He acknowledges the challenges involved in working toward big change, but is hopeful that with good leadership, such as the leadership of Stevenson and Yousafzai, significant change is possible.

We may not be capable of changing the world in one fell swoop on our own, but when we swim together in the same good direction, we become an unstoppable force.

To read Tutu’s article click here.
For more information about Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, click here.

Go Big Read selects ‘Just Mercy’ for 2015-16

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls Bryan Stevenson “America’s Mandela.”
Stevenson has spent his career fighting for racial justice and wants his fellow Americans to realize that something is inherently wrong with the land of the free and the home of the brave having the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Photo: Brian Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson
Photo: Nina Subin
In the 1980s, Stevenson co-founded the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama. Since then, he has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court five times and played a role in landmark court cases that have transformed how the criminal justice system deals with violent youths. His book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” is the latest selection for Go Big Read, UW-Madison’s common-reading program.
Go Big Read organizers encouraged the campus community to suggest titles that fit into a theme of inequality in America. Chancellor Rebecca Blank chose “Just Mercy” from the short list that a selection committee culled from 200 nominated titles.
“Bryan Stevenson’s book raises tough and important questions about inequalities in the criminal justice system,” Blank says. “Now is a particularly good time to hold these conversations, as UW-Madison students, staff and faculty grapple with the ways in which these larger national issues affect our own community.”
Hundreds of UW students and community members have taken part in demonstrations following the fatal shooting by a Madison police officer of a black teenager on the city’s East Side, as well as grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York. Many more added their voices to this important discussion during campus forums.
Stevenson’s book focuses on one of his first cases, which involved Walter McMillan, a black Alabama businessman sentenced to die for the murder of a white woman despite having an alibi verified by dozens of witnesses. “The message of this book, hammered home by dramatic examples of one man’s refusal to sit quietly and countenance horror, is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made,” said a review in The New York Times. “‘Just Mercy’ will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”
Stevenson grew up in Delaware and graduated from Harvard in 1985 with a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy. Since then he has helped secure relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, advocated for poor people and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice. He also is on the faculty at New York University School of Law and the winner of a MacArthur “genius grant.” Last year President Barack Obama appointed him to a task force established to recommend police practices that can improve relations between officers and the people they serve, particularly in minority communities.
William P. Jones, a professor of history and a member of the Go Big Read review committee, says he will use Stevenson’s book in his courses to introduce the question of “mass incarceration” and its impact on the economic and political history of the United States.
“There is perhaps no greater evidence of injustice and inequality in our society than the brutality, unfairness and racial bias displayed by our criminal justice system,” Jones says.  “‘Just Mercy’ is an ideal book for us to read and discuss together as we seek to understand and address those problems.”
By recounting his experience as a defense attorney, the author shows how poverty and racial bias work together to shape those inequalities, Jones says. “Stevenson forces us to confront the contradictions between our criminal justice system and our nation’s founding principles of equality, freedom and justice.”
Planning is underway for how students, faculty and staff will use the book in classrooms and for special events associated with “Just Mercy.” Stevenson is scheduled to visit campus Oct. 26, when he will give a talk in Varsity Hall at Union South. Copies of the book will be given to first-year students at the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students and to students using the book in their classes.

Malala Documentary in the Works

Guggenheim and hdavis-gis team spent the last 18 months with Malala and her family. With the documentary they will show Malala’s personal story as well as the impact of her work and advocacy.It was announced this week that a documentary called “He Named Me Malala” will be released sometime later this year. The film is currently in its post-production stage. The rights to the documentary were acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures and the film is under the direction of Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim is well known for directing “Waiting for Superman” and “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Although Fox Searchlight Pictures does not often take on documentary films they had this to say about Malala’s story:

The chance to bring her story to a global audience will be an honor for all of us here at Searchlight.

For more information about this upcoming documentary click here.

World Book Day is today March 5, 2015

In October, Malala spoke at the Edinburgh International Book Festival about the importance of books and education for all children. She was introduced by Harry Potter series author, J.K. Rowling. Below is what Rowling had this to say about Malala: “Malala is an inspiration to girls and women all over the world. It is a real honour for me to introduce her at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.”

After being introduced by Rowling, Malala was interviewed by Nelufar Hedayet. Below are some of Malala’s quotes about the importance of books and education:

My story is the story of thousands of children from around the world. I hope it inspires others to stand up for their rights.

If we want to see the next big change (of every child going to school) we need to become the change ourselves and bring the change.

More information about Malala and World Book Day can be found here.
Her interview can be found here.

Malala inspires girls to start #Girlwithabook campaign

Project #girlwithabook. Apparently girls with books are scary to the Taliban. Let’s get people to post pictures of themselves with books! A favorite book, a random book, a school book, you name it! Let’s do this. –OliviaOlivia and Lena were college students when Malala was attacked by the Taliban. Olivia was in Jordan and Lena was in Michigan, but they used Facebook to share their frustrations and outrage over the attack. Malala’s resilience and perseverance inspired the two girls from the United States to work together and begin the #girlwithabook social media campaign.

The girls began by collection photos from family and friends, but it wasn’t long before people from all over the world were sharing and sending photos holding books or signs that said “I stand with Malala.” The girls have been supported by multiple organizations including the UN, Half the Sky movement, National Women’s History Museum, and more. The women are using social media to raise awareness about girls’ education.

To learn more about their work visit their site here

You can also visit their social media pages:

 

“Empowering Women and Girls around the Globe” Panel Discussion

Our four panelist– AraceliLearn

how local access to information is critical to improving the lives of women and
girls in South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, and rural China. How Libraries and Information
Services are Empowering Women and Girls around the Globe
is
a free public event on Tuesday
evening, February 10 from 6:00–7:30 p.m. in 460 Memorial Library, 728 State
Street
.

Alonso, Lisa Ebert, Louise Robbins and Karla Strand — will talk about
their work in other countries. This event is part of the “Go Big Read”
community reading program which this year features the book, I am Malala, the true story of the
youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. Light refreshments will follow the panel
discussion. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the UW – Madison
Libraries, Office of the Gender & Women’s Studies Librarian, Department of
Gender and Women’s Studies and the Go Big Read program.

Araceli Alonso is an Associate Faculty at UW-Madison in the
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the School of Medicine and
Public Health. Dr. Alonso is also the Founder and Director of Health by
Motorbike (HbM), a nonprofit that provides medical services and health literacy
to women and girls from remote and isolated villages in Africa. For her
work with women’s health and women’s rights in rural Kenya, in 2013 Dr. Alonso
received two of the world most prestigious awards—the United Nations Public Service
Award and the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Karla Strand directs the Office of the Gender & Women’s Studies
Librarian for the University of Wisconsin System, the premier resource for the
support of gender and women’s studies scholarship and librarianship. Prior to this, she was employed at
Carroll University where she served as Diversity Librarian and Associate
Director. Strand is currently completing her doctorate in Information
Science via the University of Pretoria in South Africa where she is researching
how public librarians in KwaZulu-Natal province can help alleviate information
inequality in their communities.

Nikumbuke Library Patron

While
completing her master’s degree in Community and Organizational Leadership, Lisa
Ebert went to Nicaragua through the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners program, part
of the nationwide Partners in the America organization established by President
Kennedy. Her Nicaraguan experience changed Ms. Ebert’s focus for her master’s
program to women’s empowerment issues and more specifically to how the
Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners organization helps to empower women who
participate in their Learning Centers. She has returned to Nicaragua two
additional times.

Louise S.
Robbins is Professor and Director Emerita of the School of Library and Information
Studies of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also taught library
courses at universities in China, Korea, Japan, and Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006,
Robbins has been involved with the Evergreen Education Foundation, which
provides various kinds of assistance to schools and public libraries in rural
China.
The event sponsors and panelists also encourage you to read the remarkable
story of Malala Yousafzai in this year’s Go Big Read book, I Am Malala.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala refused to
be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
More
information about the event can be found on the event calendar and at the Friends of the Library.