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Confronted with questions of race they couldn’t answer, a group of Ferguson residents turn to books

Robyn Browning, Carla Fletcher and Carolyn Randazzo joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Ferguson Readings on Race book group.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Robyn Browning, Carla Fletcher and Carolyn Randazzo joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Ferguson Readings on Race book group.

This interview, initially scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11, will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon on Monday; this story will be updated after the show. You may listen live.

The Warmth of Other Suns.” “Dog Whistle Politics.” “White Rage.” “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Have you read these books? Do you want to?

Carla Fletcher didn’t know she wanted to, but when protests broke out after Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed in Ferguson, where she lived, she knew she had to do something.

“I was very conflicted by the whole experience,” Fletcher told St. Louis on the Air’s Don Marsh. “The protests were so legitimate in so many ways, yet I wasn’t on the street, that wasn’t something I was willing and able to do. I was friends with protesters and friends with those who just hated it. I didn’t know what to do. My son recommended I find something else: I find books transformative.”

So Fletcher reached out to Ferguson Municipal Public Library’s Scott Bonner, and he suggested that the library would support a book club. So, that’s what Fletcher set out to do. Nearly two years later, the Ferguson Readings on Race book club is still going strong.

The group has read 18 books so far, including the titles listed above, and calls anywhere from 12 to 18 people each time to the group to discuss the titles, all meant to elucidate historical and contemporary issues of race, and the books’ application in their everyday lives.

Fletcher was joined on the show by Carolyn Randazzo and Robyn Browning, members of the book club, to discuss exactly what they talk about in the book club and how the process of reading and discussion has transformed them:

Want more information about the book club and how to join? Check it out here.

The subject matter has us wondering: What books have you read that shed light on racism in today’s world? Email us the titles that have impacted you the most: talk@stlpublicradio.org. You can tweet us your favorites too: @STLonAir.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

This report was informed by our Public Insight Network. Click here to learn more about the network and how you can become a source for St. Louis Public Radio.

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.