Malcolm X focus of Great Michigan Read

Three-part library program to begin Jan. 31

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 9, 2018

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Is your New Year’s resolution to further your education in the humanities? 

Then get ready to read with this year’s Great Michigan Read program at the St. Clair Shores Public Library.

“The goal is to connect Michiganders to the state, our society and history,” said Library Director Rosemary Orlando. 

Put forth by the Michigan Humanities Council, a title is chosen every two years for the statewide literary program that focuses on humanity themes. 

This year’s novel is “X: A Novel,” by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. Orlando said the book is a fictional account of the civil rights leader Malcolm X that explores his Michigan roots and his early experiences.

“The author is the third daughter of Malcolm X,” Orlando said. 

The program will kick off at 7 p.m. Jan. 31. Registration is free, but required by calling or stopping into the library beginning Jan. 8 so that there are enough books for participants. The program will be led by St. Clair Shores poet M.L. Liebler, who will hand out the book and explain the program the first night. There will be an open discussion about the book at 7 p.m. Feb. 14, and the final discussion will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. All three sessions will be led by Liebler.

This is the sixth time the Michigan Humanities Council has presented the Great Michigan Read. The session is also sponsored by the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee and the Detroit Writers Guild.

“This is a statewide program, so libraries and communities and humanities groups throughout the state are participating,” Orlando said. “Just to broaden your understanding and to have a community discussion, in this case, about a prominent leader who has Michigan ties.”

Liebler said the program is like a “mini book club.”

“It’s an interesting topic that I’ve got a feeling a lot of people in St. Clair Shores don’t know a lot about. I think Malcolm X’s story is worth telling and people should know more about it,” he said.

The book is a young adult novel, so it will be a fast read, he said. 

“It won an award as a young adult novel, but it makes the reading of it interesting, engaging, and it’s not like a huge fat book,” he said. “It tells his story as related to his connection to Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, which is really where he is from.”

Many people have misconceptions about who Malcolm X was and what he stood for, Liebler said.

“I didn’t know that story very well until the Spike Lee movie,” Liebler said. “Back in my day, when I was a kid in the ’60s, Malcolm X was thought to be the bad guy and Martin Luther King was the good guy in white society. 

“I found that wasn’t really true.”

He said that having that discussion in a book club setting will be interesting for residents “to learn about this guy who has been really mysterious to suburban cultures.”

It’s a creative way to discuss race in society, he said. 

“I think everything should be discussed, and by not discussing this really big issue which has continued to fester in the American soul for all these years is a mistake,” he said. “We’re going to use this book to learn and hopefully have an insightful discussion.”

To register for the 2017-18 Great Michigan Read at the St. Clair Shores Public Library, call (586) 771-9020 or visit the library at 22500 E. 11 Mile Road.