Friday, August 24, 2007

Discussion Leader Training Workshop Set

John Gorman will conduct a discussion leader training workshop on Monday, November 12 at 6 pm at Rosenberg Library. To register for this event, please call Karen Stanley at 409.763.8854 x119.

The publicity team sent letters to 97 places of worship in the city of Galveston inviting them to send a representative to this program so that they can sponsor discussions at their facilities. We hope to have a large, enthusiastic turnout for this event.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Display at Rosenberg for LBDying book

The display for A Lesson Before Dying went up yesterday, August 7 in the lobby of the Rosenberg Library.

Lynn Burke, the publicity committee chairperson, painted the backdrop.

The scene is meant to signify the struggle down the road of life, and the door symbolizes a new day dawning.

The article can be found on the Guidry News Service online, published Monday, August 06, 2007 with the review by Patty Mayeux.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

August Meeting Monday at 4 pm

Next committee meetings will be on Monday, Aug. 13th.

The Nominating Committee will meet at 3 pm.

Galveston County Reads Committee will meet at 4 pm.

Rosenberg Library

Wortham Auditorium

Book Review: Lesson Before Dying

The Most Important Lesson
By Patty Mayeux

A man is accused of murder, found guilty and sentenced to die via electric chair.

In A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, this common story is told in post-World War II Louisiana. The accused is a young black man, Jefferson, who claims he had nothing to do with the death of the white store owner, nor with the deaths of the two black men he had earlier hitched a ride with.

Condemnation and redemption do battle as the struggle between a young teacher and the accused plays out day by day in a dreary jail cell. Neither one wishes to be involved in the task set before them.

Jefferson has limited mental capabilities and believes he is no better than the “cornered animal” his defense attorney had likened him to during the trial: “What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.”

Jefferson’s godmother, Emma, knows his fate is sealed when the guilty verdict is read; accepting the fact that very soon her reason for cooking, cleaning and caring will be put to death along with her godson. On that day, a determination is borne in her tired soul.

Emma wishes for Jefferson to walk upright to the electric chair. She didn’t raise a hog to be slaughtered without dignity. Grant Wiggins, the only teacher in the “quarter,” is the only one qualified to help Jefferson make the transformation from animal to man. Grant is reluctant, made tired enough by the daily trials of teaching in the make-shift school, housed in the old church on the plantation. Jefferson simply doesn’t care. He has enough capability to realize he will soon die. What could it possibly matter how he does?

Tante Lou, Emma’s best friend and Grant’s aunt, gives the young teacher no choice but to ask the sheriff to allow him to visit Jefferson daily. The request sounds simple, but the circumstances of the day require Grant to step below his education and act the part of the second-class citizen the sheriff believes him to be, based on the color of his skin.

It is out of love and commitment to his aunt that Grant withstands blatant bigotry and mistreatment in order to attempt the task he believes he is incapable of. His college education and limited experience have had nothing to do with teaching a young person like Jefferson how to become a man.

At one point during the months-long struggle, Grant reacts to a show of appreciation by Jefferson: “I caught myself grinning like a fool. I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him. I wanted to hug the first person I came to. I felt like someone who had just found religion. I felt like crying for joy. I really did.”

The time and place may be foreign to us today, but the lesson remains the same. Where do we gather courage, belief and, even in the face of death, hope? From whom do we gain dignity? In A Lesson Before Dying these questions haunt the teacher and the answers evade the student until the line between the two blurs, creating a subtle shift in the relationship between savior and saved.

Galveston County Reads hopes you will read this inspiring book and join in the many community discussions and programs throughout Galveston County. For information, dates and locations go to or call Karen Stanley at the Rosenberg Library, 409-763-8854, x119..