‘Race to Civility’

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Feb. 6 | Modified: Feb. 9
‘Race to Civility’

Billed as a supplement to the traditional High Country Festival of the Book series that takes places during the summer, the “Race to Civility” public forum will feature discussions on the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the South and High Country.

The forum will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 421 of the Belk Library on the Appalachian State University campus. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Watauga County Public Library or by calling (828) 264-8784.

Authors Deborah Johnson and Ed Williams will be the featured speakers.

Suzanne Thompson, who serves as chair for the summer festival, developed the idea for the upcoming forum.

“Penguin publishing company sent the Friends of the Watauga County Public Library an advance copy of Johnson’s book, ‘The Secret of Magic,’” Thompson said. “I was so impressed by the book that I contacted the publisher to ask if she (Johnson) could come speak at the summer festival. They said her book would be coming out in January and asked how would we like to have (her appear) in February. Of course, we said ‘yes.’”

“The book takes place during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement,” Thompson said.
Set in 1946, the story follows a young female attorney from New York City who attempts to attain justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Williams, the second featured author, will discuss his experiences of living in Mississippi during the 1960s and how pivotal of a period that was during American history.

Williams is a former columnist at The Charlotte Observer.

“His book, ‘Liberating Dixie,’ is an editor’s life from Ole Miss to Obama,” Thompson said.
In addition to discussing these two books, the forum will also give attendees a chance to reflect on 1960s race relations in the High Country.

“One of the things we will do as a panel is I’m working on getting key folks in the community to talk about that era in Boone,” Thompson said. “I think that would be very fascinating to hear. We are doing this doing (in conjunction) with the Friends of the Belk Library and with the Junaluska Historical Association.”

The presentation takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 8. Tickets cost $10 apiece and are only available in advance at the Watauga County Library, located at 140 Queen St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 264-8784, or visit http://www.highcountryfestivalofthebook.com.

The forum is sponsored by the Friends of the Watauga County Public Library, Junaluska Heritage Association and Richard T. Barker Friends of the University Library.

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