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DREF Re-ignites National Reading Circle

The National Reading Circle sponsored by DREF returned to active status earlier this year, engaging a national audience to read the highly acclaimed book—Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents written by Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

Caste Book Cover

Approximately 200 readers gathered on March 27, 2021 to participate in the virtual book discussion of Caste hosted by DREF. The book discussion, presented by the DREF Sister Scholars Advisory Council, was facilitated by DREF Board Member Tchicaya Robertson, Ph.D., a Sister Scholar, and Delta member Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Ph.D., President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions.

DREF President Carolyn E. Lewis, who serves as Chairperson of the Sister Scholars Advisory Council, noted that the re-launching event resulted in a robust discussion among a multi-racial audience with discussion questions addressing the elements required for a caste system to succeed, the difference between race and caste, and the difference between class and caste. Many topics were discussed in the various breakout rooms, giving participants the opportunity to dialogue in small groups about the different metaphors the author used to help readers visualize the concept of the American caste system as well as comparing the caste systems in three different countries: India, Nazi Germany, and America. Several breakout groups addressed the question: “What are some of the steps that society, and each of us, can take toward dismantling the caste system?”

Caste Book Discussion Presenters

             Dr. Robertson Nat'l Reading Circle                                   Prez- Nat'l Reading Circle                

                                       Dr. Tchicaya Robertson                      Carolyn E. Lewis                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings - Nat'l Reading Circle                                      

                                               Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Ph.D. 

Hearty appreciation is extended to the participants who served as discussion leaders in the breakout sessions: Sister Scholar Wanda G. Brockington, Ph.D.; Deborah Peaks Coleman, DREF ProgramDirector; Lisa D. Hayes, Esq., Aja C. Holmes, Ph.D.; Sister Scholar Mary Howard-Hamilton, Ed.D.; Pat Hurlock, DREF Board Member; Jackie Jeanpierre; Mackenzie Jenkins; Frankie Lipinski; Tanika McBee; Nneka McNeal-Jackson, M.D.; Tiki Massie; Sister Scholar Crystal Shelby-Caffey; and Audrey Thornton.

The National Reading Circle was originally established by DREF in 2009 with the intent of promoting books written by African American women.  The first book selected for the National Reading Circle was Ida: A Sword Among Lions, the award-winning biography written by Sister Scholar Paula J. Giddings about anti-lynching activist and journalist Ida B. Wells. The National Reading continued with the reading of other titles through 2011.

Upcoming Program Activities for the National Reading Circle

The Sister Scholars Advisory Council will announce its 2021 Recommended Summer Reading List on June 20, 2021—the first day of summer.  Stay tuned to learn what great titles will be recommended for your reading pleasure to fill your summer months.  The reading list will also announce the next selection of the National Reading Circle; a book discussion of the next selection will be held in autumn.



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