September 2, 2022 Laurie Asmus
“Anger is often a prelude to a joke,” writes Jerald Walker, Hingham resident and award-winning author, “as there is broad understanding that the triumph over this destructive emotion lay in finding its punchline.”
It is in this spirit – with a heavy dose of shrewd insight and wry humor – that Walker writes about his personal experiences with issues of race and shared humanity in his most recent book, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, a Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction and winner of the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction. It is titled after the Fredrick Douglass quote, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man,” and includes stories from growing up, parenting, writing, teaching, and existing as a black man in both an inner-city ghetto and predominately white suburbs.
To honor his accomplishments, the Hingham Historical Society, in partnership with the Hingham Unity Council, is naming Jerald Walker a Hingham History Maker on Thursday, September 8, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at The Hingham Heritage Museum, 34 Main Street in Hingham. Free and open to all, the event will include a reading, book signing, and refreshments following the reading. Copies of How to Make a Slave will be available for purchase at the event. Please register to attend by emailing Admin@hinghamhistorical.org. After you pick up a copy of the book at the September event and have a chance to read it, all are welcome to join a community conversation with the author hosted by the Hingham Unity Council on Thursday, November 3, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. Register at www.hinghamunity.org/event/jerald-walker-conversation.
The goal of the Hingham Unity Council book discussion series is to foster a more inclusive community by discussing stories of race, justice, and equity. Previous titles have included Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman, Waking Up White by Debbie Irving, The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi, Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, and The Person You Mean to Be, How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh, featuring a conversation with the author.
Jerald Walker is a professor of creative writing at Emerson College and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow in the general nonfiction category. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a James A. Michener Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for Nonfiction. His work has appeared in The Harvard Review, Creative Nonfiction, The Iowa Review, Mother Jones, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Best American Essays series. He has served as a Visiting Professor in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT, the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa, and the Visiting Hurst Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
For more information and to register for these events, please visit www.hinghamunity.org/event/jerald-walker/ and www.hinghamunity.org/event/jerald-walker conversation
For other upcoming events and initiatives, join the Hingham Unity Council’s email list at www.hinghamunity.org and follow www.facebook.com/hinghamunitycouncil. Formed by members of the Hingham community in the fall of 2019, Hingham Unity Council is fiscally sponsored by the South Shore Unity Council, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All are welcome to participate.