Evanston Township High School will host “Revisiting the Underground Railroad” with Colson Whitehead on Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
Whitehead is the recipient of the 2017 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for The Underground Railroad, his bestselling novel which was also awarded the 2016 National Book Award for fiction and is short-listed for the new PEN America Literary Award. Perhaps most symbolic, The Underground Railroad was the last novel former President Barack Obama read while in office.
The Underground Railroad tells the story of Cora, a 15-year-old slave on a Georgia plantation who escapes to the North via an actual underground railroad, not a metaphorical one. With each stopover and resettlement, Cora’s life is imperiled, the violence and terror manifesting in myriad ways, the traumas accumulating and expanding. In her New York Times review of The Underground Railroad, the Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic Michiko Kakutani writes, “The harrowing tale he (Whitehead) tells here is the back story to the injustices African-Americans and immigrants continue to suffer today, but the back story only in the sense, as Faulkner put it, that ‘the past is never dead. It’s not even past’… [H]e memorializes the yearning for freedom that spurs one generation after another to persevere in the search for justice — despite threats and intimidation, despite reversals and efforts to turn back the clock. He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.”
Whitehead is a 1991 graduate of Harvard University. His non-fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Granta, and Harper’s. He has taught at several universities, including Princeton University, New York University, and Columbia University. Whitehead is a MacArthur Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
The “Revisiting the Underground Railroad” presentations in February are sponsored by Family Action Network (FAN), in partnership with Evanston Public Library, Evanston Township High School, Francis W. Parker School, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, New Trier High School D203, North Shore Country Day School, Roycemore School, and Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.).
ETHS is located at 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, 60201. The auditorium is wheelchair accessible. Guests should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to 7:00pm to find parking and seats. Parking is available in the lot across from the main entrance, off of Dodge Avenue, or in the lots behind the high school. Parking is also available along Dodge Avenue according to posted City of Evanston signs. If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this program/event, please contact the ETHS Events Coordinator Office at [email protected] or 847-424-7084. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.
For more information about FAN events and sponsors for the 2016-17 presentations, visit www.familyactionnetwork.net.