Opening Remarks for Jason Reynolds, October 26, 2021

FOCL Board President Angela Bernat’s Opening Remarks

Good evening. I am Angela Bernat, the Board President of the Friends of the Central Library and I am delighted to welcome you in person and via live streaming tonight.
This is indeed a special evening for FOCL. Nearly 200 middle school, high school, and college students are with us tonight. Will these young readers in the audience please stand and be recognized?
A special thank you to NBT Bank whose donation has made it possible for some students to attend.
In addition to the students in the audience this evening, earlier today, our speaker, Jason Reynolds, met with 15 Martin Luther King 5th grade students at Beauchamp Library. This is an example of how we at FOCL reach out to the members of our community to make our authors and lectures available. Your subscriptions and donations allow us to accomplish this. Please keep this in mind as we reach out to you during our Annual Appeal, which will be arriving in your mailbox next month.
Shortly we will meet tonight’s guest author, Jason Reynolds, but first I wish to thank our Legends Sponsors, the Allyn Family Foundation and National Grid, who help make this series a success. You can find the complete list of our sponsors on the banner and in your program book. We are grateful to our sponsors and donors for the generosity that allows us to bring you this series.
River’s End Book Store is also with us tonight. They are located just outside the auditorium, near the top of the staircase and escalator. Please stop by after the lecture to purchase books from them.
Unfortunately, despite making every attempt to do so, we are unable to provide a sign language interpreter this evening.
Kim Schellinger, FOCL’s Executive Director, will ask the questions following Jason’s remarks. If you do have a question please email it to by 8:15 so that we can add to our list of questions.
After Jason’s talk, those of you who are sponsors, Literary Circle, and Patron level subscribers may join us for a reception, where you will have an opportunity to meet Jason and to have your book signed by him. The reception will be on the stage, which you may access by using the stairs to the left of the stage.
Finally, please take a moment to pull out your phone and silence it or turn it off altogether. Thank you.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce Cedric Bolton, who will introduce Jason. Cedric serves as the Coordinator of Student Engagement for the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Syracuse University. While at SU, Cedric has designed the spoken word poetry program Verbal Blend, ECLISPE Dialogues, Poetry for the People, Black Men & Women’s Think Tank, Poets Learning Community, and coordinated efforts for Black History Month.
Please welcome Cedric Bolton.

Cedric Bolton’s Introduction

Good evening,
It is indeed a privilege and honor to introduce this evening’s Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series speaker, Mr. Jason Reynolds. I would like to thank the Friends of Central Libraries for the invitation to be here with you, tonight.
I enjoy reading just as much as the next person; however, I love a great quote. James Baldwins once said—
“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… the world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way… people look at reality, then you can change it.”
At the same token you must realize your destiny and as Jason have noted “You can’t run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.”
I believe that Jason is running to who he is destined to be, a great writer and ambassador of youth literature.
Mr. Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, who writes novels and poetry for young adult and middle-grade audiences. His most recent book, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, was a National Book Award finalist and was named one of the best books of 2019 by NPR, The New York Times, School Library Journal, and more. Look Both Ways is composed of interconnected stories, each centering on a different student from the same school and tells what happens after the dismissal bell rings, brilliantly reminding readers to look at our surroundings more closely and notice all the things that connect us to our communities.
Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Maryland, Reynolds first found inspiration in rap and began writing poetry when he was nine years old. He went on to publish several poetry collections before publishing his first novel, When I Was the Greatest, which won the Corretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. He has since written numerous award-winning novels, including All American Boys, the Track series, Patina, Sunny, For Everyone, Miles Morales-Spiderman, and As Brave As You, which won the Kirkus Prize, an NAACP Image Award, and the Schneider Family Book Award. He is also the author of Long Way Down, a novel in verse which was named a Newberry Honor book, a Printz Honor Book, and best young adult work by the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards.
Reynolds’ book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, written in collaboration with author and historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, is a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative that illuminates the many insidious forms of racist ideas and give readers the tools to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives. Based on Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, Reynolds has re-imagined this ground-breaking work for young adults and provides an accessible book that helps young readers understand race and society.
Let’s give a warm Syracuse, New York Welcome to Mr. Jason Reynolds