Books and Breakfast: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, another Books and Breakfast discussion took place at the Martin Luther King Community Center. This month’s book was In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker. Dr. Terri Jett, from Butler’s Political Science Department facilitated the event, and attendees ranged from Butler students and faculty to individuals from the local Indianapolis community. After a brief welcome, Dr. Jett encouraged attendees to break off into smaller discussion groups in order to ensure that everyone had plenty of chances to contribute to the conversation. The direction and content of the conversations varied; some groups followed the provided list of discussion prompts more closely, while others drifted between those prompts and their own questions, which also sparked some fascinating conversations.

One table mostly focused on Walker’s chapter “The Civil Rights Movement: What Good Was It?” Regarding protests in general, the group pondered what constitutes a “proper” protest, and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of both non-violent and aggressive movements. This table also spent some time talking about Walker’s comparisons between Cuban revolutionaries and their African American counterparts. Beyond the predetermined discussion questions, this group talked about the role of religion within America’s racist institutions, and the generational gaps in ideology between the black activists of the Civil Rights Movement and the black activists of today’s movements. The conversation also came around to the topic of how gentrification in Indianapolis has divided minority communities and inhibited their ability to protect themselves and their rights.

Other tables spoke about their knowledge and appreciation of Alice Walker and her career as a writer, poet and activist. Butler students in the class Dr. Jett is teaching on Alice Walker were able to bring a greater knowledge of the breadth of Walker’s works into conversation with the excerpts chosen from In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. This input proved very helpful for those more unfamiliar with Walker’s life and career and sparked questions about Walker’s relationship with her daughter, her overall career as an activist and how her personal life has affected her writing and career.

These small group discussions lasted through the entire event, and afterwards many attendees took the time to mingle and talk to each other about the topic.

The next Books and Breakfast will be Saturday, June 24, from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The discussion will focus on the book Polite Protest by Richard Pierce.

By: Annika London

Partners: Butler University Political Science Department, Butler University Irwin Library, Martin Luther King Community Center

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