University of Connecticut


uconn_reads_logo_newThe University of Connecticut’s UConn Reads program has been created to bring together the University community – from students, faculty, and staff to alumni and friends of UConn, as well as citizens of Connecticut – for a far-reaching and engaging dialogue centered on a book suggested by the community.

We invite you to join us in reading this year’s book of choice and, over the coming year, participating in the conversation through an exciting series of discussion groups and other events and activities hosted by the University. We look forward to what is sure to be a stimulating and fulfilling conversation.

Black History Month Opening Ceremony / February 4, 2016 

Throughout the year the Center prides itself on sponsoring programming that celebrates African American heritage and history. For the entire month of February, which has been nationally designated Black History Month, the Center works especially hard to celebrate African American legacy and culture through various lectures, workshops, exhibits, symposiums, and artistic symposium. The Black History Month Opening is one the Center’s signature programs and, as a result, is well attended. On this day, members of our campus community are invited to attend a spirit-filled evening of gospel music, featuring UCONN’s Voices of Freedom Gospel Choir and other special guests.

This year’s opening ceremony, co-sponsored by the UConn Reads initiative, will feature Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, and Benjamin Crump, the lead attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin. This event will take place in the Student Union Ballroom at 6 PM. Admission is free but tickets are required in advance.

Contact:           Kayla Bynum, 860-486-2070 at


MLK DAY / Monday, January 18, 2016 at 4 PM / Jorgensen /

Keynote Speaker: Melissa Harris-Perry

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The UConn community celebrates and reflects on the works and teachings of Dr. King, and the efforts that continue in his name today. This event will be held Monday, January 18, 2016 in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus at 4:00pm. This year’s featured speaker is Melissa Harris-PerryThis event is co-sponsored by the UConn Reads initiative.

For more information about this event, please contact the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center by phone at 860-486-3433 or by email at For immediate assistance, please contact Kayla Bynum by phone at 860-486-2070 or by email at Website:


Small Grant Competition for Campus Programming (UConn Reads)

The UConn Reads Steering Committee invites all academic departments, centers, and institutes at Storrs and the regional campuses to submit proposals to the UConn Reads Small Grant Competition. Applicants should propose programming for the 2016 Spring Semester to support this year’s theme, “Race in America.” Up to $750 is available per request. UConn Reads programming is wide ranging, and in the past has included guest speakers, exhibitions, films, performances, workshops, and other events. Please submit an application form by December 1st. Recipients will be notified in mid-December of their awards.

The application can be found at the following link:

Library Resources for UConn Reads: The New Jim Crow

Richard Bleiler (member of the UConn Reads Steering Committee) has generated a very useful resource site in conjunction with this year’s focus on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow:

UConn Reads 2015-16 Selection: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow

Published in 2010, The New Jim Crow has received considerable acclaim and has been labeled by Cornel West the “secular bible for a new social movement.” Consistent with the overall mission of UConn Reads as an initiative intended to galvanize thoughtful discussion and worthwhile debate, and in line with this year’s focus on “race in America,” The New Jim Crow is evocative, provocative, stimulating, and compelling.

Authored by civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow challenges the idea that race-based discrimination (epitomized by Jim Crow segregation) ended with the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s. Arguing that the War on Drugs – which began in the 1970s – disproportionately targets men of color and has given rise to a growing “racial caste system,” Alexander calls for a new way of seeing mass incarceration not as a criminal issue but rather as a crisis of racial justice and civil rights.

For the complete story, please access the following link:



UConn Reads 2015-16 Theme:  Race in America

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the UConn Reads Steering Committee has selected the following theme: “Race in America.” This particular frame is both provocative and poignant, especially when set adjacent various current events (like Ferguson, Baltimore, and #blacklivesmatter) and situated within the context of several significant anniversaries, which include the fiftieth anniversaries of the March on Selma and the subsequent passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 2015 is also the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which removed – for the first time in U.S. history — race-based, nation-based quotas from immigration law.