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Showing posts from September, 2021

Banned Books Week, 2021

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Banned Books Week was started by the American Library Association in 1982 as a means to fight censorship and raise awareness of the effort to censor, challenge or ban books in public spaces such as schools and libraries.  This year, the ALA theme for Banned Books Week is "Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us." Of course, books have always caused controversy.  Book challenges, book burnings, library destructions punctuate our past. Galileo was threatened with death for a book he wrote.  Controversial books in the past, like The Call of the Wild and The Grapes of Wrath are now considered classics. And some classics are now considered controversial, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby (To be fair, The Great Gatsby was controversial when it was published, gained classic status, and is still often challenged). Topics contained in books make some people uneasy. But does that mean that they should not be read? Over at Common Sense Media , author Regan McMahon argues

ARCLight Podcast S01E02: A Conversation about John Hersey With Lesley M. M. Blume

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Author Lesley M. M. Blume has a deep admiration for John Hersey. Her book,  Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed it to the World  is a fascinating behind-the-scenes account about how John Hersey wrote Hiroshima.  "When I came across Hersey's story, " she states, "it just seemed to me the purest example of journalistic integrity and journalistic effectiveness that one could possibly find." On August 10, just days after the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and just days before the 75th anniversary of the publishing of  Hiroshima  in the pages of  The New Yorker Magazine , I sat down with Lesley Blume to discuss her book, John Hersey and the legacy of Hiroshima . It was a great conversation. Listen  to the new episode of the ARCLight Podcast today featuring that conversation, and check out the display case outside the ARC. There, you will find an original newspaper from 1945, plus the rare edition of The New Yorker magazine di

The Power of a Face

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I am not good with names. After teaching for 30 years, names drift in and out.  But faces I never forget. This week, we are remembering 9/11 and the sacrifices that many have made over the last 20 years. As part of this commemoration, the Hersey ARC was privileged to host the exhibit “Portrait of a Soldier.” The exhibit features the faces and names of all the service men and women from Illinois killed in action since 2001. On Tuesday, we were in the ARC attaching the banners to the ceiling so that students and staff could view the exhibit prior to our “Meaning of Service” Assembly with Governor Quinn, Gold Star Families and First Responders on Friday. And I saw a face.  A face I hadn’t seen in years. And there he was, in a beautiful hand-drawn picture. A face among hundreds. And it hit me in the gut.  Will Newgard was a student I had some twenty years ago. He was killed in action in Iraq on December 26, 2006. I think I knew that…but names are harder for me to visualize. I saw a face.

"Race Music" and the Beginning of Rock and Roll

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Last month we highlighted Elvis Presley. He may have been the “King of Rock and Roll,” but in no way did he invent the music. In fact, he merely copied the music that had been invented and played in the Black community for years.   Not to diminish the importance of Elvis, though. He would eventually develop his own style. But more importantly, he introduced Rock and Roll to a whole new audience. Billboard , January 1, 1949 Public Domain Like Blues and Jazz before it, Rock and Roll music was developed by Black musicians in Black communities. But it was not known as Rock and Roll, however. It was, at the time, called “rhythm and blues,” or “R & B.” Which, according to Little Richard , stood for “real Black.” To White America, however, it was called “Race Music.” Major record labels refused to record it. White-owned establishments did not put the music in their juke boxes. White performers did not record the music, either. At least, not yet. This was a pattern that had played out i

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