The event is free but registration is required. Doors open at 3:30 p.m.
Open Book / Open Mind is sponsored by Montclair Public Library Foundation, Watchung Booksellers, Josh Weston, Rosemary Iverson and an anonymous donor. We are also grateful for the generous support of our in-kind sponsors, First Congregational Church of Montclair, The George, and Amanti Vino. To support Open Book / Open Mind and other library programs, click here to donate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Swarns is a journalism professor at New York University and a contributing writer for The New York Times. She is the author of "American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama" and a co-author of "Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives." Her work has been recognized and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Biographers International Organization, the Leon Levy Center for Biography, the MacDowell artist residency program, and others. She is a longtime resident of Montclair.
ABOUT THE BOOK
"The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church"
"In 1838, a group of America’s most prominent Catholic priests sold 272 enslaved people to save their largest mission project, what is now Georgetown University. In this groundbreaking account, journalist, author, and professor Rachel L. Swarns follows one family through nearly two centuries of indentured servitude and enslavement to uncover the harrowing origin story of the Catholic Church in the United States. Through the saga of the Mahoney family, Swarns illustrates how the Church relied on slave labor and slave sales to sustain its operations and to help finance its expansion...Their descendants would remain apart until Rachel Swarns’s reporting in The New York Times finally reunited them. They would go on to join other GU272 descendants who pressed Georgetown and the Catholic Church to make amends, prodding the institutions to break new ground in the movement for reparations and reconciliation in America." —Penguin Random House
"An absolutely essential addition to the history of the Catholic Church, whose involvement in New World slavery sustained the Church and, thereby, helped to entrench enslavement in American society.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, author of "The Hemingses of Monticello"
"A vivid, pointillistically detailed narrative that foregrounds the people who were enslaved even as it tells the story of the school buildings erected with their labor and the institutions sustained and funded by their sale....“The 272” brings the “original sin” of slavery close and renders the practice—and the efforts to justify it—all too recognizable." —The New Yorker
ABOUT THE CONVERSATION PARTNER
Khalil Gibran Muhammad ("The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America") is the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project and is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. His work has been featured in the landmark New York Times’ “1619 Project,” as well as Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary 13th. Muhammad also hosts the podcast "Some of My Best Friends Are," a show candidly exploring the intricacies and absurdities of race.