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Book Bridge Project Challenges Readers’ Ideas on Bioethics and Race

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Article by: Joe Clark, clarkjx@pgcc.edu

 LARGO, Md.—The Book Bridge Project at Prince George’s Community College, a community-wide reading and engagement initiative, hosts a series of community dialogues about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Interactive discussion groups are designed to challenge people’s ideas and belief systems on issues relevant to today’s society. Scheduled events include book clubs, poetry workshops and creative readings. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks chronicles the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge. Lacks’ cells became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization. Skloot takes the reader on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with Lacks’ cells.  The college community selected the book to encourage readers to examine how far racial discrimination can extend when left unchecked and wholly supported by a society. 

Book Club Meetings, Wednesdays in October, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Accokeek Hall.  Participants will discuss book chapters divided into four sections.  

Legacy of Lacks Workshop, November 14, 6 p.m., Accokeek Hall. An experienced area poet will assist students as they create submissions for a December poetry slam.  

Legacy of Lacks Poetry Slam, December 5, 6 p.m., Largo Student Center.  Writers will present their original works of poetry. 

About the Book Bridge Project  

The annual Book Bridge Project at Prince George’s Community College was established in 1997. Using literature as a base for building a bridge between the college campus and community, the project fosters improved relationships across the county. The founder of Book Bridge, retired PGCC English professor Mary Brown, compared the project to a book club that is open to anyone in the community with partners including businesses, churches, schools and social groups. Each year, college employees select from a list of books, and the publication receiving the most votes becomes the feature book of the program. Past reading selections include President Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands, Bebe Moore Campbell’s Brothers and Sisters, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, Michelle Singletary’s Spend Well, Live Rich and James McBride's Song Yet Sung.    

The Book Bridge Project is supported in part by the Prince George’s Community College Foundation, Inc., English Department, Developmental English/Reading Department in the Learning Foundations Division, and the Prince George’s Community College Library. For more information, contact okedeyri@pgcc.edu.  

Prince George’s Community College is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Two-year Education designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security (2010-2015). Established in 1958, Prince George’s Community College provides transfer and career programs that help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities and prepare them for the workforce. Each year, 40,000 students take part in more than 200 academic programs and workforce development and continuing education courses. Located in Largo, Maryland, Prince George’s Community College has additional sites at Joint Base Andrews, University Town Center in Hyattsville, Laurel College Center, Skilled Trades Center in Camp Springs, and Westphalia Training Center in Upper Marlboro. For more information, visit the college website at www.pgcc.edu, follow on Twitter,  Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and tune-in to Transforming Lives at Prince George’s Community College, Mondays at 11 a.m.   

 

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