Book Banning, Black Studies, and Backlash
Mark Whitaker + Clifford Thompson

Less than three years after the murder of George Floyd galvanized the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, the headlines are now full of stories about the banning of books by Black authors and attempts to limit the teaching of Black Studies. What does history tell us about why this backlash is happening—again? Mark Whitaker and Clifford Thompson are two writers with unique insights into that question. The discussion between Whitaker and Thompson promises to be a lively, timely, and important conversation. Whitaker is the former editor of Newsweek magazine and now a Contributing Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning. His new book, Saying It Loud: 1966-The Year Black Power Challenged the Civil Rights Movement, was hailed by Kirkus Reviews as “an essential volume in the history of Black liberation movements.” Thompson is an award-winning novelist, essayist and visual artist whose recent collection of nonfiction writing, What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues, was described as “captivating” by NPR.

Mark Whitaker is a Black man with medium skin tones and short pepper and salt hair. Smiling and looking at camera, he's wearing a royal blue collared shirt

Mark Whitaker is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, My Long Trip Home, and Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance. The former managing editor of CNN Worldwide, he was previously the Washington bureau chief for NBC News and a reporter and editor at Newsweek, where he rose to become the first African-American leader of a national newsweekly.

Photo is black and white. Clifford Thompson is a brown-skinned man with close shaved hair. He's wearing a sweater with a raised collar. His hands are crossed and held at his chin. Window behind him with a parked truck at his left shoulder

Clifford Thompson’s books include What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues, which Time magazine had called one of the “most anticipated” books of the season, and the graphic novel Big Man and the Little Men, which he both wrote and illustrated. His essays and reviews have appeared in The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalThe Village VoiceBest American Essays, and The Threepenny Review, among other places. Thompson teaches creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College and the Bennington Writing Seminars. A painter, he is a member of Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City. He was born and raised in Washington, DC, attended Oberlin College, and lives with his wife in Brooklyn, where they raised their two kids.

Get a Full Festival pass and you’ll get to take in the Story Slam on Thursday night. Then sail into the weekend: attending all the wonderful panels, both Little Bites and Big Libations Cocktail Parties, and both evening events. And share the bounty from our always-stuffed goody bag.

Kleinert/James Center
34 Tinker Street
Saturday April 1, 2023