In A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines wrote about an unfair and brutal American justice system—one that’s still operating today. Before “No justice, no peace” and before the Black Lives Matter movement existed, Gaines told the too-common story of an innocent black man sentenced to die by his white neighbors.
For our second NEA Big Read event, Reverend David Telfort from the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church moderated a discussion on America’s faulty criminal justice system with its roots in slavery and a vision for truly achieving a system of justice in the future. He was joined by Kyung-Ji Kate Rhee of the Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice and Healing and Dr. David Khey, a criminal justice expert currently researching in the same Louisiana prison system as the one featured in A Lesson Before Dying.
Co-presented with The Center for NuLeadership on Human Justice and Healing and Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The Center for Fiction’s Big Read initiative, running from March to June 2021, includes free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars. This initiative is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
A Lesson Before Dying
By Ernest J. Gaines
Published by Vintage
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, A Lesson Before Dying is a deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a black youth on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.