We are thrilled to announce that Kwame Alexander will virtually visit Hope College as a result of a collaborative effort of several Hope organizations. The NEA Big Read Lakeshore, Black Student Union, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Tensen Writing Fund, Cultural Affairs Committee, Education Department and Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series are thrilled to announce this partnership for Black History Month. Alexander is a distinguished poet, educator and author, known for his works bringing attention to the experiences of Black lives in America. His works are powerful and provocative, cultivating important thought and discussion. This event will take place as part of a Black History Month initiative at Hope College. 

“Light and Hope for the World To See: A Conversation with Kwame Alexander” will occur on February 26, 2021 from 2-3pm ET and is intended for readers of all ages. Due to COVID-19, this event will be hosted virtually. More information along with registration can be found on bigreadlakeshore.com. Community members and K-12 students and teachers are encouraged to attend.

During the event, Alexander will discuss a variety of topics including his newest book Light for the World to See: A Thousand Words on Race and Hope. Written in verse, this collection cuts to the heart of the entrenched racism and oppression in America, eloquently exploring ongoing events and experiences. It has been called a “rap session on race” and is a lyrical response to the struggles of Black lives in our world. Alexander honors the centuries of loss, endless resilience and unstoppable hope.  

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books, including Swing, Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, The Undefeated, How to Read a Book and, his Newberry medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover

A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In partnership with Follett Book Fairs, he created the #AllBooksForAllKids initiative to bring more diverse books into school libraries. 

In 2018, he opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. Kwame is the Founding Editor of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that aims to Change the World One Word at a Time.

Hope College’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore program began in 2014 with the goal to create and foster a culture where reading matters. By bringing the Lakeshore community together around a common book, Big Read Lakeshore uses the shared experience of reading, discussing and exploring the themes of the book as a springboard to listen from and learn from each other. 

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore program is made possible in part by a grant from the NEA Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. 

Hope’s BSU has played a key role in the planning of this event and others during Black History Month. BSU facilitates interaction and heightens awareness of African American history and culture within the Hope College and Holland communities. They work to unite our community by providing educational experiences through speakers, dialogues and social functions.

“Books contain some of the greatest stories ever told, and Black Student Union is excited to partner with several great organizations around the Hope/Holland community to help highlight some of those stories and the black creators that inspire us. Kwame Alexander is one of those creators, and we are thrilled to have him come and share with us!” Kworweinski Lafontant, president of BSU, said.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is another organization involved in the event. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion empowers students to excel academically and flourish as socially responsible members in a diverse world. They provide opportunities, resources and advocacy in partnership with the greater Hope College community to promote a Christ-centered culture of equity and inclusion.

“The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is excited to collaborate on our celebration of Black History Month and African American writers with many Hope College departments and groups. We commemorate Black History in February and throughout the year.  [We are] looking forward to virtually welcoming Kwame Alexander to our campus,” Margo Walters, Program Coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said.

This event is also being hosted in partnership with Hope College’s Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series, a student-run, faculty-organized series committed to hosting free events that are open to the public. Their events offer opportunities for our local and student communities to interact with the visiting writers and discuss their craft  through panels, readings, classes and workshops. The program’s goal is to provide the community with diverse and rich literary experiences.

This event is also made possible through support from Hope College’s Education Department, the Ruth Tensen Creative Writing Fund and the Cultural Affairs Committee. More information about them can be found at hope.edu.

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