When something needs to get done, ask a few women and Voila! It’s done, and probably bigger and better than any one person could ever have imagined.
Such is the case with a grand reception to be held this evening for Jackson author Angie Thomas. It’s a reception that will recognize the accomplishments of someone who has done something well. Something that has touched and inspired people. Something that has shown a different perspective. Something that deals with a difficult subject with grace and redemption. Angie Thomas wrote a book, and that book has “blown up” to become a national sensation.
In her book, The Hate U Give, Thomas introduces her readers to Starr, an African-American high schooler who has feet in two worlds. One is the neighborhood where she grew up, where crime and disparity are common. It’s filtered into her own home, as her father has served time in prison for his own transgressions. Starr’s other world is the private, mostly-white, high school across town. She not only fits in there, but has a white boyfriend. Yet, she assumes two different personas, depending on which world she finds herself.
There is much more to the book, and because this isn’t a review, I simply suggest (insist) that you take the time to buy and read the book, because it’s important. So important that it is enjoying its 83rd week on the New York Times bestseller list. So important that a major motion picture based on the book is premiering this week. So important that a group of women, under the leadership of one man, have come together to honor Thomas at a grand gala event that has come together in a little less than four weeks.
Tonight, friends, family and fans will gather at the Two Museums (Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Mississippi Museum of History) to celebrate Angie Thomas. The event is free to the public, and will feature great music by R&B artist Kerry Thomas, delicious food by Mangia Bene catering, and all that one would expect at an event to honor a hometown-girl- done-good.
The event was spearheaded by Joe Maxwell, who quickly recruited Leisha Pickering to help. Maxwell runs the Well Writers Guild, a place where young writers can explore and grow in their love of writing. Pickering serves on the board of directors of the Well Writers Guild, an organization which Angie Thomas highly endorses and on which Angie also serves as a board member. "I wish I had had the chance to be a part of a group such as The Well Writers Guild,” said Thomas. “My first novel and the subsequent movie contract is a dream come true. Joe Maxwell taught me in college writing classes and gave me great encouragement to pursue my goals. I still lean on Joe for advice and encouragement, and I am excited to support The Well Writers Guild on several levels. I may even get the chance to lead workshops that include your child!"
As the planning began, Holly Lange, executive director of the Mississippi Book Festival, came on board as co-chair with Pickering. More strong women came on board to plan the event, including Jackson’s First Lady, Ebony Lumumba, who is hosting the event with her husband, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, along with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Well Writers Guild and the Mississippi Book Festival. A very special sponsorship role was payed with New Horizon Church International. Suzie Foote, Rosanne Maxwell, Nell Knox, Annette Fair, Sharolyn Bryant-Miller-- along with a host of Well Writers Guild parents--have helped plan or will volunteer at the event.
In a short period of time, this village of people who love reading and who appreciate the accomplishments of Angie Thomas, have planned an event that will be worthy of honoring the author.
Originally planned to take place in a private home, the magnitude of the event has grown to the point where a much larger venue was needed. Over 500 people are expected to fill the Two Museums for the reception, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight. The event is free to the public.
A more intimate experience will be provided for VIP patrons from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.. A suggested donation of $100 will benefit the Well Writers Guild, and will provide attendees with a more private visit with Thomas as well as reserved-seat tickets to the premiere of the movie tomorrow night.
The film will premiere at Malco Grandview Cinema in Madison tomorrow evening. For a sneak peak, take a look at the movie trailer for “The Hate U Give.”
More information about the both the public and private receptions can be found at www.wellwritersguild.com.