St. Bonaventure University has chosen the book “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond” by scholar and journalist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill as its common read for 2017-18.
“Nobody” considers a string of high-profile deaths in America and incidents of gross negligence by the government. To make his case, Hill recounts the details of tragedies like the death of Michael Brown and draws upon first-hand reporting and careful historical analysis to show how the “Nobody” class has emerged over time and how forces in America have worked to preserve and exploit this group in ways that are both humiliating and harmful.
‘“Nobody’ is an ideal selection for our new students’ first St. Bonaventure collegiate book; it is well tailored to the All Bonaventure Reads (ABR) community theme plus St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan premise of caring for the vulnerable,” said Jean Trevarton Ehman, chair of the ABR Committee. “Hill does an excellent job of weaving facts into compelling prose that should command readership and fuel thought-provoking discussions. We are eager to welcome Hill as our campus guest and keynote speaker on Sept. 25 as well as create engaging programing concepts students can mold into their own form.”
As part of the All Bonaventure Reads initiative, first-year students at St. Bonaventure will receive a copy of “Nobody” during summer Orientation and be asked to read the book and write an essay reflecting on it as their first college assignment. Students will be engaged in conversations about the book’s themes in their SBU 101 course and various campuswide events during the upcoming academic year.
“‘Nobody’ will encourage students to analyze how various social identities, including race, class, and gender, impact an individual’s experiences within American communities,” said Chris Brown, director of the First-Year Experience program. “By highlighting ways people have been marginalized, ‘Nobody’ will help students study factors that create dysfunction in society and, hopefully, explore ways to create positive change in their own community.”
The university will welcome Hill to campus Monday, Sept. 25, to deliver a keynote address to members of the Class of 2021. The talk will be open to the public and additional details will be announced at a later date.
Hill, the Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College for the past three years, is considered one of the leading scholars of his generation. This fall he will join the faculty at Temple University to focus on how media can help solve challenges faced by cities. Hill, who grew up in Philadelphia, previously worked at Temple and received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the university.
Rachel Sawyer, a residence director and ABR committee member, feels “Nobody” is a perfect pairing for classroom discussions in SBU 101, which is centered on the theme of community.
“The book touches on many different aspects of intersectionality that we fail to recognize at times. I think that it is tremendously important to discuss systemic oppression. Just by starting a conversation, we can help address these issues around the world and, specifically, in our own community,” Sawyer said.
An award-winning journalist, Hill has received numerous prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. He is also the host of BET News and VH1 Live, as well as a political contributor for CNN.
Since his days as a youth in Philadelphia, Hill has been a social justice activist and organizer. He is a founding board member of My5th, a non-profit organization devoted to educating youth about their legal rights and responsibilities. He is also a board member and organizer of the Philadelphia Student Union. Hill also works closely with the ACLU Drug Reform Project, focusing on drug informant policy. Over the past few years, he has actively worked on campaigns to end the death penalty and to release numerous political prisoners.
Ebony Magazine has named him one of America’s 100 most influential black leaders.
He is the author or co-author of three other books: the award-winning “Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity;” “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black life in America;” and “Gentrifier.”
Trained as an anthropologist of education, Hill holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the intersections between culture, politics and education.
Campus programming for All Bonaventure Reads 2017 will be announced at www.sbu.edu/ABR as events are confirmed.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #6 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
St. Bonaventure has chosen the nonfiction book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson as its common read for 2015-2016. This All Bonaventure Reads selection explores the inequity embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” was released in October and focuses mainly on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a legal practice Stevenson founded as a young lawyer that is dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need.
One of Stevenson’s first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. It transformed the lawyer’s understanding of mercy and justice forever and illustrates numerous ongoing challenges in work advocating for social justice.
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7 p.m. | Monday, Oct. 26
Address by: Anthony Ray Hinton (above, right), an exonerated death row inmate, and Charlotte Morrison, senior attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative
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