COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place for this in-person event. Please scroll down for details.
Join us for an evening with Elizabeth Alexander in conversation with author Tayari Jones to discuss Alexander's new book, The Trayvon Generation, a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America’s unresolved problem with race. This in-person event is part of the Conversations at First Baptist series and is free and open to the public, but registration is required. COVID-19 safety protocols and requirements will be in place. Scroll for details.
In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander—one of the great literary voices of our time—turned a mother’s eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she refers to as “the Trayvon Generation,” who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.
The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander’s lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.
This breathtaking book is essential reading, and an expression of both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era that is sure to be embraced by those who are leading the movement for change and anyone rising to meet the moment.
About the series:
Conversations is a continuing series of Author Events at First Baptist Church Decatur. Conversations at First Baptist Church Decatur is pleased to partner with the Georgia Center for the Book and others in the Decatur area to host public dialogues that engage the minds and connect the spirits of our community, at the intersection of faith, purpose, and values.
We are committed to a safe environment for all writers, attendees, staff, and volunteers. Following CDC guidelines and adhering to the protocols of the First Baptist Church of Decatur, we are taking the following steps for safety during this program:
-Masks: Face masks must be worn properly over the nose and the mouth at all times on the entire church property, including outdoors.
-Social Distancing: Attendance indoors is capped at less than 50% of capacity, with alternating rows left vacant.
-Vaccines: Proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination (CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or image of the card) is required for anyone entering the church. In the rare event of a misplaced COVID-19 card, please provide proof of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before the event and be prepared to sign a vaccine verification statement.
Elizabeth Alexander is a prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author, renowned poet, educator, scholar, and cultural advocate. She is also is president of the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in the arts, culture, and humanities. Dr. Alexander’s most recent book is The Trayvon Generation. Among the fifteen books she has authored or co-authored, her poetry collection American Sublime was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2006, and her memoir, The Light of the World, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2015. Other works include Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990–2010 , Power and Possibility: Essays, Reviews, Interviews , The Black Interior: Essays , Antebellum Dream Book , Body of Life , and The Venus Hottentot . Over the course of an esteemed career in education, Dr. Alexander has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University, where she taught for fifteen years and chaired the African American Studies Department. She has been awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the George Kent Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes for Poetry. Notably, Dr. Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. Dr. Alexander is Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board, and co-designed the Art for Justice Fund.
New York Times best-selling author Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, most recently An American Marriage. Published in 2018, An American Marriage is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and also appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list as well as his year-end roundup. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize and an NAACP Image Award. It has been published in two dozen countries. Jones, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Her third novel, Silver Sparrow, was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.
Photo: Nina Subin