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March 14, 2018

NEA Big Read Program kicks off at MSU

The National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, Big Read kicks off its month-long programming in the mid-Michigan area at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Green Room of Michigan State University’s Main Library with a screening of “What Happens to a Dream Deferred.”

This short film highlights a day in the life of two Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients, José Badillo-Carlos and Osvaldo Sandoval, both graduate students at MSU, after the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program.

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion with both Badillo-Carlos and Sandoval, as well as Veronica Thronson, director of the MSU Immigration Law Clinic. 

The NEA Big Read is a national invitation to read together. MSU was one of 75 nonprofit organizations across the country to receive this year’s NEA Big Read grant. Funds allow for the purchase of books for community readers.

From the NEA list of titles, MSU organizers selected Luís Alberto Urrea’s “Into the Beautiful North,” a story about 19-year-old Nayeli and her friends, who journey from a small village in Sinaloa, Mexico, to search for the husbands, fathers and brothers from their community who left to find work in the United States. 

“The subject of immigration is compelling, especially at the current moment,” said Sheila Contreras, MSU associate professor of English, who, in partnership with Capital Area District Libraries, was awarded a $14,000 grant to host the NEA Big Read in the mid-Michigan area.

An initiative of the NEA in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read aims to broaden  understanding of the world and communities through the joy of sharing a book. Urrea’s novel will introduce many mid-Michigan readers to Chicano/Mexican-American literature and to underrepresented perspectives on migration from Mexico to the United States.

Free copies of “Into the Beautiful North” will be available at the kick-off event, as well as at the following locations, while supplies last: 

The closing event, scheduled at 7 p.m. on April 18, will bring Urrea to Lansing for a reading and Q & A at the Robin Theatre.

Several book discussions and film screenings also are planned throughout the month. For more information, visit here.

MSU is partnering with Capital Area District Libraries, the Hispanic/Latino Commission of MichiganAllen Neighborhood Center and the Peace Education Center to bring the Big Read to mid-Michigan.

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