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Community-Wide Black History Book Study Group Returns in February

2023 book study sessions 4 & 5The School District of University City is celebrating Black History 2023 in February and early March with its second annual community-wide book study group that will meet virtually every Friday through March 3 and culminate with a traditional outdoor fireside chat at University City High School on March 7. 

The moderated group is open to anyone wishing to thoughtfully engage in African American history and its many differing narratives and perspectives.

Conducted in partnership with University City Public Library, the group will read and discuss Four Hundred Souls, a compilation of writings by 90 African American authors, each focusing on different five-year periods of African American History starting from 1619 and progressing to the present. The book was compiled and edited by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (scholar and author of How to Be an Antiracist) and Dr. Keisha N. Blain (scholar-historian and author). 

The 90 writers explore their 5-year periods through a variety of techniques to approach history from various perspectives; through places, laws and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the Black community.

The moderated reading groups will meet virtually from  6 to 7:30 p.m. on:

  • Friday, February 3 - with opening remarks by Superintendent Dr. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley
  • Friday, February 10 - with guest remarks by Washington University's Dr. Leonard Moore, George Littlefield Professor of American History 
  • Friday, February 17 - with guest remarks by Christina Grove, director of CLR for The School District of University City
  • Friday, February 24
  • Friday, March 3

The reading group will culminate with an in-person Fireside Chat held outside University City High School on Tuesday, March 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Lions' Den patio area. All are welcome to attend. Registration is required.

The virtual black history book study group got its start in February 2022 when 400 participants, some from as far as California and New York, joined online to discuss Nikole Hannah-Jones’ book, The 1619 Project, amid controversial national and statewide political debate about the book being taught in public schools. The book posits 1619, the year African slaves were first brought to the shores of America, as a formative and defining moment that dictated future American history. 

Questions can be sent to organizer Christina Sneed, preK-12 Communication Arts Coordinator, at


  2023 Book Study Sessions 2-5     2023 Book Study Fireside Chat   Book Study Flier