Elizabeth and Hazel; Inherently Unequal – 2 Books to Remind Us That We Still Have Much Work to Do

Since April of 1998, the first month we held the First Friday Book Synopsis, I have read books, prepared synopses of the key content, and presented these to interested audiences.  So, I am constantly preparing new synopses – reading books I have not yet read, preparing my handouts, and then presenting the material.

Right now, I am reading two books for the two Urban Engagement Book Club gatherings in Dallas in February.  (We meet the first and third Thursdays).  Both of these books take us deeply into the issues of social justice and racial concerns.

And these are important books because the fact is that there are people – (there have been for a very, very, very long time, and there still are such people) – who are prejudiced against, and discriminate against, other people for the simple reason that they are of a different race.  And they discriminate in ways that they truly are ignorant of – they do not understand their own failings…  (And, yes, that “they” should include every “me” – including this “me”).

Such prejudice and discrimination should have never existed, and should never have been tolerated.  And it should not be tolerated now.  Ever. – Within yourself.  Among the people in your company or organization.  Or anywhere else in society.

One of the two books I am preparing for February is the remarkable book Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick.  It is the sad, hopeful and then ultimately disappointing story of two young women, and their succeeding years, who were captured in a gripping photograph in one hateful moment of history:  Here is the  photograph of Elizabeth and Hazel, taken in 1957 in Little Rock:

Elizabeth Eckford, followed and taunted by an angry crowd after she was denied entrance to Little Rock Central High School, September 4, 1957. The girl in the light dress behind her is Hazel Bryan. Will Counts Collection/Indiana University Archives.

The two women later met, and with some apology and work, “reconciled.”  But, alas, that reconciliation has not endured…  This book is their story – and the larger societal story of the ongoing difficulties of racial differences and discrimination.

The other book is about the long-lasting implication of court decisions.  If you have ever wondered if the Courts make an impact on our society, this book will help you settle this in a hurry.  This book is:  Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903 by Lawrence Goldstone.

I admit my bias — I think we should read often.  And then, I think we should be exposed to the significant ideas in books that we don’t have time to actually read.  (So many books, so little time!).  That is the value, especially, of the presentations I make.  And though I love to present business book synopses, at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and many other places (to companies, organizations, and associations, and other groups), it is the Urban Engagement Book Club that is closest to my heart, and also causes me the most “discomfort.”  These book selections remind us that we have so much work to do to build a better society.

If you are in the Dallas area, come join us for the Urban Engagement Book Club CitySquare, a remarkable and visionary nonprofit, sponsors these gatherings.  The conversations will stretch you.  The presentations will help you, challenge you, and, at times, disturb you.

We meet the first Thursdays at the Highland Park Methodist Church right next to SMU, and the third Thursdays at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas.  Both gatherings are at noon.  Get all the details here.

Here are the two books for February:

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(Personal note — I will be aways from my computer for a few days.  I should be back to blogging on Tuesday).

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