Authors Larry Brimner, Evelyn Coleman, and Jo Kittinger shared personal stories that motivated these authors to pen books for young readers at the Birmingham Public Library’s Ninth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture program. The midday program was attended by students from Phillips Academy’s Readers On the Move Book Club, Mrs. Sephira Shuttlesworth, and numerous library patrons.
The panel program began with Brimner, sharing some of his experiences as a young history teacher in the Mexican community. One of the pivotal moments as an educator in the area was the warning he received to limit his social circle to non-Mexicans. This experience along with his family ties to Birmingham set the stage for his award-wining book, Birmingham Sunday.
Birmingham resident Jo Kittinger recounted her inspiration to create the story of Rosa’s Bus, which grew from the outreach by the owner of the actual bus on which Rosa Parks took a stand for civil rights. With the encouragement of her editor and illustrator, Kittinger developed the story that captured the spirit of the era for young readers.
Coleman, author of Freedom Train, shared a more strident perspective, encouraging young people to “Make friends with people who are different from them. By having friends of different cultures, people can more easily understand how someone else feels. This understanding will help make this a better world,” Coleman continued.
In addition to this Brown Bag Lunch program, the Youth Department hosted programs with the authors at several branch libraries throughout the week. This very special program is a sample of the stimulating and thought-provoking programs hosted regularly by the Birmingham Public Library.