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National Endowment for the Arts Big Read 2020 at Broward County Library

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Broward County Library presents Big Read in January 2020, featuring the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Program themes focus upon Louisiana, the story’s location, and its music, culture and food along with topics raised by the book about social justice, racial inequality, human dignity and personal redemption.

Big Read 2020, a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program, will offer activities and book discussions system-wide, including American Sign Language book discussions and crafts; movie and book discussions with incarcerated youth at Broward’s Department of Juvenile Justice; healthy Cajun cooking workshop with Louisiana soul food recipes; and a performance of Louisiana Blues from the 1940s and 50s, reflecting music from of the novel’s era. 

A New York Times Bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and an Oprah’s Book Club selection, A Lesson Before Dying is the story of a barely literate Black man on trial for a murder he didn't commit and the teacher who helps him embrace dignity and the heroism of resisting. Gaines is also the author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

Copies of A Lesson Before Dying in several media are available from Broward County Library, including books, downloadable ebooks, audiobooks and DVD.

The month-long exploration of the novel and its provocative social themes kicks off 5 to 8PM on Friday, January 10, 2020 at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC), 2650 Sistrunk Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33311, 954-357-6282. A keynote presentation on the lives of African Americans in Louisiana during the 1940s will be presented by Dr. Terriel Byrd, author of I Shall Not Be Moved and By This Shall We Be Known: Interpreting the Voice and Message of Dr. King, Jr.  Related programs will be held at multiple branches throughout January.

The Bridge Outreach for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will conduct an American Sign Language (ASL) book discussion and craft activity based on A Lesson Before Dying from 2 to 3PM on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at the Margate Catharine Young Branch, 5810 Park Drive, Margate, FL 33063, 954-357-7510. The deaf, hard of hearing and hearing are all invited to participate in this unique American Sign Language book discussion.

The NEA Big Read Closing Session: Blues & Soul Food takes place from 5 to 9 PM on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC), 2650 Sistrunk Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33311, 954-357-6282. The event focuses on the music and cuisine of Louisiana. Participants will enjoy a live performance that combines acting and traditional music of the 1940’s with hip-hop/trap remixes and crowd participation, bringing the books characters to life. FLIPANY, an area non-profit with a mission to empower youth and adults through nutrition and physical activity programs while influencing policy changes for healthier communities, will conduct a healthy Cajun cooking workshop, demonstrate Louisiana soul food recipes, and serve samples to participants.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest. Additional sponsorship is provided by the Broward Public Library Foundation and the Florida Center for the Book. For additional information or volunteer opportunities, contact Michael Bryant, 954-357-7435, or Kimberly White, 954-357-7470,

Please see the attachment at the bottom of the page for a full list of Big Read 2020 programs. 

About Broward County Libraries Division
Broward County Libraries Divisionnamed 2015 Library of the Year by the Florida Library Association, was founded in 1974 and is the largest library system in Florida by square footage and one of the busiest, with more than 7.5 million walk-in customers visiting its 38 locations annually. Broward County Libraries Division provides convenient access to a full range of innovative and cost-effective services that satisfy the changing needs of the people of Broward County for information, education and recreation. Visit our website,, or follow Libraries on Facebook and Twitter.

DATE: December 3, 2019
Catherine McElrath
Libraries Division

Big Read 2020 Events.pdf