in conversation with Mahogany L. Browne
The Trayvon Generation
Mon., April 4, 2022 • 5:00pm PT • $28
From a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author and poet comes a galvanizing meditation on the power of art and culture to illuminate America's unresolved problem with race.
In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander—one of the great literary voices of our time—turned a mother's eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.
The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander's lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.
This breathtaking book is essential reading and an expression of both the tragedies and hopes for the young people of this era that is sure to be embraced by those who are leading the movement for change and anyone rising to meet the moment.
Elizabeth Alexander is a prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author, renowned American poet, educator, scholar, and cultural advocate. Her memoir, The Light of the World, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Awards. She composed and recited “Praise Song for the Day” for President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and is currently president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in the arts, culture, and humanities.
Mahogany L. Browne, selected as Kennedy Center's Next 50, is the Executive Director of JustMedia, a media literacy initiative supporting the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members. This position is informed by her career as a writer, organizer, & educator. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic. As the founder of the diverse lit initiative, Woke Baby Book Fair. Browne's latest project is a poetry collection responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children: I Remember Death By Its Proximity to What I Love (Haymarket Books). She is the first-ever poet-in-residence at the Lincoln Center and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Elizabeth Alexander photo courtesy of Djeneba Aduayom; Mahogany L. Browne photo courtesy of Jennie Bergqvist