Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature

Building Bridges

"Education, after all, is a matter of building bridges."
– Ralph Ellison

Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature is a unique book group experience offering readers the opportunity for immersion in great books by black authors over the course of four monthly discussions from February - May 2011 at the L.H. Bluford Branch.


Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature is a unique book group experience focused on enduring works by black American authors: Toni Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye, her debut novel that set the tone for a Nobel Prize-winning legacy; Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, a novel that is an essential part of any conversation about the Great American Novel; James Baldwin, author of The Fire Next Time, an incendiary part-autobiographical essay on American racial tensions in the early 1960s; and Dorothy West, author of The Wedding, a nuanced and controversial family drama.

The Bluford Branch will host participants for conversations about these featured books with the guidance of expert discussion leaders and a small cadre of like-minded readers; these discussions will take always take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. from February through May 2011.


Carmaletta Williams is an administrator at Johnson County Community College specializing in black literature and whose academic interests include the works of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. She has studied at Harvard University and Yale University. Williams will join the discussions of The Bluest Eye and Invisible Man.

John Edgar Tidwell is an English professor specializing in black literature at the University of Kansas, where he is researching a book on the poet Sterling Brown. He has served as a visiting fellow at both Harvard University and Yale University. Tidwell will join the discussion of The Wedding.

Kaite Stover is the Head of Readers’ Services for the Kansas City Public Library, where she serves as the resident expert on book groups. She hosts workshops and presentations nationwide that focus on improved book group experiences. Booklist magazine publishes her side of its regular column “He Reads/She Reads.” She is the lead coordinator for Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature.

Bernard Norcott is a technical assistant at the L.H. Bluford Branch, where he also facilitates the ongoing bi-monthly Black Classics Book Group. He holds master’s degrees in Ancient Greek from Loyola University Chicago and in English Literature from Syracuse University. He teaches Greek mythology at Johnson County Community College.