ALA Conference Comes to New Orleans

Former First Lady Michelle Obama Comes to New Orleans at American Library Association Conference

By Edwin Buggage

Liberty and Literacy

In an age where societies across the globe are facing challenges of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century; and with access to unlimited information, we have to ask ourselves what is the relationship to liberty in the 21st Century. There are eight key areas that ALA focuses on, with four major areas of importance; education, lifelong learning, literacy and intellectual freedom. These goals have a much larger meaning as they are attached to maintain our Democracy and civil society.

New Orleans will be the location where these and many other questions will be pondered as the American Library Association Conference and Exhibition will be coming to the Crescent City from June 21st thru 26th.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development and improvement of library information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

Gabriel’s Horn and the Resurrection of a People: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Musician, Author and Philanthropist.

In the General Open Session; the Annual Conference Welcome Celebration will feature Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and students from his foundation. Andrews has come a long way since his early days growing up as a child prodigy in Treme’. Today this member of a great musical family is a world-renowned author, philanthropist and Grammy nominated multi-instrumentalist, leading his own band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. He has performed and shared the stage with countless legends in music including U2, Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, Madonna and a host of local legends whos footsteps he’s now walking as an ambassador of New Orleans and its rich musical traditions. He’s also performed at the White House Event given by the Obama’s “Red White and Blues” and recently appeared on the longest running American sitcom, The Simpsons.

Andrews is the author of “Trombone Shorty” winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award and Caldecott Honor Award. His latest picture book is another unforgettable hometown of New Orleans. “The 5 O’Clock Band illustrated by Coretta Scott King Book Award winner Bryan Collier, is about a young musician who benefits from NOLA-bred wisdom as he hits the streets of New Orleans to find inspiration and answers.

Andrews is the recipient of the prestigious Heinz Award in recognition of his community service with the Trombone Shorty Foundation- that’s committed to preserving the musical heritage of New Orleans while providing music education and mentorship to underserved young musicians.

The Continuing of the American Dream: Former First Lady Michelle Obama

America is at a crossroads at home and on the global stage. We have witnessed a shift from the Obama years, ones that promoted openness and inclusion, fast forward to today, we are seeing the exact opposite coming from the Oval Office.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden will moderate conversation with former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama during the Opening General Session of the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference and Exhibition Friday, June 22nd. This session will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from 4-5:30 P.M.

Hayden and Obama will end the opening program with an in-depth conversation around Obama’s forthcoming memoir “Becoming” (Crown Publishing Group) to be released in November of 2018. The book focuses on the experiences that have impacted her life, her family and the country.

Hayden, a phenomenal woman in her own right is the first woman and the first African-American to lead the Library of Congress. She was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama in February 2016, and her nomination confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2016.

Obama’s memoir will be published in the U.S. and Canada and in 25 languages around the world. The book invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.

All Voices Matter: Viola Davis

Viola Davis has broken the mold and come to define Black excellence in the world of acting. She is a critically revered, award-winning actress of film television and theatre. She is the first Black actress to win Tony a (Fences & King Headley II), an Oscar (Fences) and an Emmy (How to Get Away with Murder) awards for acting. She will close the 2018 ALA Conference as she discusses her children’s book, Corduroy Takes a Bow. Illustrated by Jody Wheeler, Davis celebrates 50 years of America’s favorite teddy bear with a brand new, classically illustrated picture book.

Using her own experiences as a Tony Award-winning Broadway Actress, Davis writes the story of Corduroy and Lisa’s first trip to the theatre. As usual, Corduroy ventures off on his own, and readers follow his escapades as he explores all over, from the orchestra pit-to the costume racks-to the props table and ultimately the stage itself, before being reunited with Lisa.

This is a beautifully illustrated tale with a classical feel, sure to spark an interest in theatres with children of any age. The book will be available Fall 2018. Davis, who is an advocate of creating positive images for minorities have created along with her husband founded their production company JuVee Productions, with its focus being to give a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful, and culturally relevant narratives.

Literacy and the Future of Democracy

Today literacy and cultural voices being heard across the spectrum are necessary in a nation and world that is changing. During the conference this is noted as there is the Coretta Scott King Book Award Breakfast to celebrate the winner and honor recipients during ALA’s Annual Conference. Join some of the leading authors and illustrators of quality children’s books depicting the African-American Experience.

The ALA as previously noted are advocates of Life-Long Learning, Education, Literacy and Intellectual Freedom. These challenges are central to a country founded on liberty. Where the keys to literacy for all is a door that opens for an already great country to become greater; and not be trapped in the historic amnesia of negative nostalgia and the closed door of ignorance and isolation. Conversely, it is time to grasp the knowledge and skillsets using information in a responsible way and not lower ourselves to the lowest common denominator of accepting sound bites and misinformation that are impediments to our discourse. Taking this higher road will bring us from the islands of poverty into the oasis of prosperity for more Americans.

It is a challenge that a society must take as it decides how to address the relationship between literacy, liberty and democracy. It is in answering these questions and working towards solutions that the bells of freedom and justice will not only ring in United States but across the globe. Of course, there is not only one path but multiple roads to this laudable goal. But we must continue to seek our higher truth and dialog in a constructive way building bridges of understanding to destroy ignorance if we are to build a better world for all and continue as the beacon of light and example of the oldest continuing democracy in the modern world.

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