OIE Diversity Newslinks

Book of the Month

How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood

By Jim Grimsley

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 4/14/2015


“White people declared that the South would rise again. Black people raised a fist and chanted for Black Power. Somehow we negotiated a space between those poles and learned to sit in classrooms together . . . Lawyers, judges, adults declared that the days of separate schools were over, but we were the ones who took the next step. History gave us a piece of itself. We made of it what we could.” —Jim Grimsley

In August of 1966, Jim Grimsley entered the sixth grade in his small eastern North Carolina hometown. But this year marked a significant shift in the way the people there--especially the white people--lived their lives. It was the year federally mandated integration of the schools went into effect, at first allowing students to change schools through “freedom of choice,” replaced two years later by forced integration.

For Jim, going to one of the private schools that almost immediately sprang up was not an option: his family was too poor to consider paying tuition, and while they shared the community’s dismay over the mixing of the races, they had bigger, more immediate problems to face.

Now, more than forty years later, Grimsley, a critically acclaimed novelist, revisits that school and those times, remembering his personal reaction to his first real exposure to black children and to their culture, and his growing awareness of his own mostly unrecognized racist attitudes.

An Opportunity to Meet the Author

Duke University Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to host writer Jim Grimsley for a conversation about his acclaimed new memoir.

Thursday, May 21
Reception at 6 p.m., conversation at 7 p.m.
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina

CDS director and civil rights scholar Wesley Hogan and CDS scholar and writer Tim Tyson (Blood Done Sign My Name; Radio Free Dixie) will join Grimsley for a discussion around How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood (Algonquin Books), in which Grimsley looks back at his school and his small North Carolina hometown in 1966, when federally mandated integration of schools went into effect in the state. The conversation will be preceded by a reception and brief reading and followed by a book signing.

The boy in this narrative is becoming a man in a time of enormous change, and his point of view is like a razor cutting through a callous. Painful and healing. Forthright and enormously engaging. This is a book to collect and share and treasure.
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

May Is Asian-Pacific American History Month

Asian-Pacific American History Month

Asian-Pacific Americans have made enormous contributions to American society and culture through their patriotism, inventions and hard work in countless endeavors.

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Asian American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month: "I am Beyond"

Website Spotlight

Administration for Community Living

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Older Americans Month

May Is Older Americans Month

The 2015 Older Americans Month theme is "Get into the Act." Visit the 2015 theme section for materials and ideas to help your organization celebrate Older Americans Month. Please feel free to use this theme and any other materials on the website for your programs or events.

When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month."

Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.

May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

Statement Issued by the White House

May 17 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

The White House on Saturday (May 15, 2015) issued this statement by the President and First Lady commemorating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia:

Michelle and I join our fellow Americans and others around the world in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia tomorrow, May 17. We take this opportunity to reaffirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.

We work toward this goal every day. Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons. Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach.

There is much more to do, and this fight for equality will not be won in a day. But we will keep working, at home and abroad, and we will keep fighting, for however long it takes until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.

As is widely known, June is the LGBT Pride Month. Keep checking the website www.lgbtqnation.com for materials in celebration of the Pride Month.

The White House website has many interesting educational videos on the topic that you can peruse.

50th Anniversary LGBT Civil Rights Movement

Duke Spotlight

A Panel Discussion on Police Brutality & Race at Duke Law

Streamed live on Sep 15, 2014

Sparked by the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri, there is a renewed public discussion on troubled interactions between minorities and police. This panel, comprised of experts from various disciplines, offers observations and suggestions. Panelists include: Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University; Dr. Karla Holloway, Professor of English, Law, and Women's Studies; Daryl Atkinson, attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), focusing on criminal justice reform; Melvin Tucker, criminal justice and litigation consultant for law enforcement cases. Duke Law Professor Trina Jones moderates the panel. Sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the Center on Law, Race, and Politics.

The discussion includes a previously recorded video report by Melissa Harris-Perry.

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