NYT best-selling author to give free lecture at COW

NYT best-selling author to give free lecture at COW

Image Credit: James J. Reddington

Jason Reynolds, No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of books for young people and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2020-22), will give The College of Wooster’s Peter Mortensen Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at McGaw Chapel, 303 E. University St.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Reynolds and co-author Ibram X Kendi was selected as Wooster’s summer reading book for first-year students in the Class of 2026. The book is a remix of Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,”which follows five historical figures and the way they dismantled or aggravated racist ideas in America.

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” is the product of the collaboration between Reynolds and Kendi. The text is historical and topical with content and language designed for teens and young adults.

“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence,” Reynolds said. “Racist ideas are woven into the fabric of this country, and the first step to building an antiracist America is acknowledging America’s racist past and present. This book takes you on that journey, showing how racist ideas started and were spread and how they can be discredited.”

Born in Washington, D.C., Reynolds started writing poetry when he was 9 years old. He published his first novel, “When I Was The Greatest,” in 2014, which won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent that same year. Over the next four years, Reynolds wrote eight more novels, returning to poetry in 2017 with “Long Way Down,” a novel in verse that was named a Newbery Honor Book, a Printz Honor Book and best young adult work by the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards. In 2019 he wrote “Look Both Ways,” for which he won a Carnegie Medal.

As National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Reynolds teaches young writers how to start writing authentically: “The greatest gift (young writers) have is the voice that feels most natural,” he said.

The Peter Mortensen Endowed Lecture Fund was established in 2006 with a gift from Peter Mortensen, Class of 1956, with gratitude for the contribution of The College of Wooster to the success and happiness of three generations of the Mortensen family. Income from the fund is used to support one or more public lectures and/or performances related to the First-Year Seminar or for similar purposes directly related to the academic programs.