First-Year Experience Common Reading Speaker - Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Event date: 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 7:00pm


Clark Athletic Center
Dyson Book Cover



The First-Year Program will host it's Common Reading Program on September 25, 2019 in the Clark Athletic Center at 7 pm. This year's selected author is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, the author of What Truth Sounds Like. A book signing will take place after the speaking presentation. This event is part of Panther Pride Homecoming 2019 and all are welcome. All First-Year students are required to attend.
What Truth Sounds Like is a social and political analyst reflects on racial tensions and relations in America.  The focal point of the book is a 1963 meeting organized by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who sought out writer James Baldwin to explain the rage that threatened to engulf black America. Baldwin brought along some friends, including musician Harry Belafonte, singer Lena Horne,  playwright Lorraine Hansberry, psychologist Kenneth Clark, and activist Jerome Smith. Hoping that a conversation would result in a practical “urban agenda,” Kennedy was stunned by “a gut punch of black rage.” For nearly three hours he listened to “violent, emotional verbal assaults,” especially from Smith, who claimed that he was “close to the moment where I’m ready to take up a gun.” To Kennedy, his guests seemed “more interested in witness than policy.” Their emotional testimony struck him as “hysterical.” For their part, they saw Kennedy as a well-meaning but ignorant white liberal. White America’s hatred of blackness, Kennedy’s guests agreed, “could never be solved solely by a governmental program.” The meeting, Dr. Dyson asserts, exposed rage that still persists, as blacks struggle to find “room to breathe within the smothering confines of white society” and public figures grapple for solutions. The author points to Minneapolis Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins and California senator Kamala Harris; black intellectuals Ta-Nehisi Coates, Erin Aubry Kaplan, and Farah Jasmine Griffin; artists Jay-Z and Beyoncé; and sports figures Muhammad Ali and Colin Kaepernick as inspiring figures courageous enough “to face down oppression in our land.” Dr. Dyson also celebrates the potent image of Wakanda in the movie Black Panther, which helps “remythologize blackness, to see blackness as an imagined kingdom of possibility, to see it as an alternative universe of humane endeavor.”
Dr. Dyson is an award winning author, a widely celebrated Georgetown University sociology professor, a prominent public intellectual and a noted political analyst. He is a  a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN's The Undefeated website. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he is also an ordained Baptist minister. Dr. Dyson is a two-time NAACP Image Award winner (Why I Love Black Women, and Is Bill Cosby Right?), and the winner of the American Book Award for Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. His book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, was a Kirkus Prize finalist.  Dr. Dyson has written 19 books, and edited another one, over his nearly 25-year publishing career. He is also a highly sought after public speaker who is known to excite both secular and sacred audiences.