In celebration of Toni Morrison’s landmark masterpiece, Beloved, Jacqueline Woodson hosted an evening with dramatic readings from the novel by accomplished stage and screen actors Crystal Dickinson and Ty Jones, with special musical guest Roen Emersyn Jones. This event kicked off our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read of Beloved, and helped us gather a community of readers and re-readers of this timeless and essential novel.
The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read—a partnership with Arts Midwest—broadens our understanding of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community.
By Toni Morrison
Published by Knopf Doubleday
An unflinching look into the abyss of slavery from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner. This spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.
Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
Jacqueline Woodson is the recipient of a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, which also received the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor. She also wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Before the Ever After, New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side; Each Kindness; Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and a two-time winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.
Crystal Dickinson’s Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning play, Clybourne Park, and Tony-nominated play, You Can’t Take It with You. She has performed off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, Signature Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and The Atlantic. Her film & TV credits include I Origins, The Good Wife, Feed the Beast, New Amsterdam, and recurring roles on the Showtime drama, The CHI and ABC’s, For Life.
NAACP Award Winner, Ty Jones is the OBIE Award Winning Producing Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH). Under Jones’ leadership, CTH’s template of financial discipline, precision marketing, and exceptional programming, resulted in its growth and stability. Jones initiated Uptown Meets Downtown, a program comprising strategic partnerships with downtown theatres designed to share expenses and build artistic bridges between communities. He created Uptown Shakespeare in the Park, bringing free, professional theatre to Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Jones is a vet of five Broadway shows including Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington. Principal TV/film work includes, When They See Us, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and he’s best known as Agent Donovan on Power. Graduate and Honorary Doctorate of the University of Delaware.
Roen Emersyn Jones
Roen Emersyn Jones
Roen Emersyn Jones is a 13 yr old violinist who attends the Special Music School. She is a 7th grader who also plays the Viola and loves math.