March 11, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Expands Chicago Public Library's One Book, One Chicago to Full Year of Programs

Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns” to be the 2013 selection

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Library Board President Linda Johnson Rice in announcing a major expansion of the Library’s One Book, One Chicago program and the choice of Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration as the next selection in the Library’s nationally recognized, award-winning, citywide book club.

“Isabel Wilkerson’s book brings to life the stories of African Americans who left their homes in the South in search of a better life.  These are the stories of people who helped create the Chicago we know today – and of people continuing to come to our city each day in hopes of finding their dream,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “Each of us has a story to tell about our family’s path to Chicago and how we all helped to make Chicago the most American of American cities.”

The Library will now host a year-long discussion of one book and its ideas, an expansion from the month-long programs offered twice a year since the series started 12 years ago.

Beginning this April and continuing into spring 2014, the Chicago Public Library and its many community partners will host a series of events each month, all exploring the theme of migration and how it has shaped – and continues to shape – Chicago.

“The themes contained in this book inspired us to expand the One Book, One Chicago program to 12 full months of programs and conversations,” Commissioner Bannon added. “The ideas and discussions they spark are simply too big to be contained in a single month.  We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city.”

The One Book, One Chicago program, which has been replicated in more than 150 cities across the country, is made possible by Allstate and BMO Harris, through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.  Thanks to pro bono efforts of Leo Burnett the new One Book, One Chicago program now hosts a new logo and campaign inviting Chicagoans to join the conversation. 

The Library is joining with many community partners to bring Chicagoans a variety of ways to participate each month.  Through events in neighborhood libraries, at the downtown Harold Washington Library Center and at partner locations, people can take part in art exhibits, story-telling, panel discussions, music performances, and of course, book discussions.

In April, WBEZ and the Center for Civic Reflection will hold three community discussions based on Richard Wright’s Black Boy, in which he describes his migration to Chicago.  These discussions will explore Chicago's history as a gateway for such hopeful migrants from the 20th century to today, with a community conversation that starts with Wright's words about seeking "the warmth of other suns" and asks if those who sought out Chicago during the Great Migration found what they were looking for.

In May, Chicago historian and recent Champion of Freedom Award recipient Timuel Black will join Johnson Publishing President & CEO Linda Johnson Rice and historian Adam Green at the Harold Washington Library for a discussion across generations of how the Great Migration shaped the city and their lives.

Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events will offer performances by Blues musicians at branch libraries, in advance of the 30th Annual Chicago Blues Festival this June which this year is themed “Rollin’ Up the River,” celebrating the evolution of the blues from South to North up the Mississippi.

From May through October, StoryCorps, a national nonprofit oral history project which aims to create a portrait of who we are as Americans, will visit 13 CPL locations each month to offer Chicagoans opportunities to tell their migration story.   StoryCorps@ your library is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office.

On October 1, author Isabel Wilkerson will appear at the Harold Washington Library Center to read from and discuss her book, which is the centerpiece of the newly designed One Book, One Chicago program.

Partners in this year’s One Book, One Chicago include The Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Civic Reflections, Congo Square Theatre Company, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Office of New Americans, DePaul University, DuSable Museum of African American History, Little Black Pearl, StoryCorps@ your library, and the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Throughout its 139-year history, the Chicago Public Library has always encouraged Chicagoans of all ages to make reading a priority. One Book, One Chicago began in the fall of 2001, to encourage all Chicagoans to read the same book at the time, bringing our diverse city together around one great book.

For more information, please visit the website,, or call the Chicago Public Library Press Office at 312.747.4050.

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