Six inmates in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center are now participating in a new book club thanks to the Sheriff’s Office and the Alexandria Library.
Recently, the club welcomed Andrew Aydin, co-author of the March graphic novel series, as a special guest to their weekly discussion. Mr. Aydin, who co-authored March with Congressman John Lewis and Nate Powell, shared some of the challenges he experienced growing up as someone with a Muslim background who didn’t fit in with groups of either white or black kids. He also discussed how his mother, who raised him on her own, pushed him to develop fundamental skills like reading and writing that would always be valuable.
Mr. Aydin explained that as an adult, he wished to right the wrong he witnessed growing up and to share lessons to show what others had gone through. When he began working for Congressman Lewis, he realized that many young people were unfamiliar with the significance of the relatively recent Civil Rights Movement and he decided to produce a graphic novel that followed John Lewis’ experiences as a young civil rights activist.
One book club member said that although he had met Congressman Lewis on a school field trip a few years earlier, he did not realize the significance of the Congressman’s work. Because of March, he now had a far greater understanding and appreciation for John Lewis’ civil rights work than he did from visiting his office on a class trip.
Mr. Aydin surprised the members with copies of March signed by him and Congressman Lewis.
The Club also read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.
Alexandria Library Director Rose T. Dawson facilitates the group, known simply as The Book Club, with assistance from Sheriff’s Office staff including Inmate Services Director LaTanya Ervin, Inmate Programs Manager Gloria Wright and Inmate Librarian Kammie Stubblefield.
The Book Club is made possible through support from ALA’s Great Stories Club program and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework. TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. With funding from ALA and WKKF, the Alexandria Library and Sheriff’s Office organized TBC for young offenders between 18 and 21. TBC members receive selected books and journals for writing, and Library and Sheriff’s staff facilitate weekly book club discussions and arrange for special guests.