Books Sandwiched In: Life of Robert Peace opens dialogue on struggles of African Americans

In honor of Black History Month, the Knox County Public Library book club hosted a book discussion on Jeff Hobbs’ book,”The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League,” at the East Tennessee History Center auditorium on Feb. 22. 

Written by Casey Vincent

In honor of Black History Month, Tatia Harris, Title VI Coordinator of the Tennessee Community Crime Reduction Program of Knoxville, also known as TCCRP, led a book discussion on “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League,” by Jeff Hobbs at the East Tennessee History Center auditorium on Feb. 22.

This discussion was hosted by the Knox County Public Library book club. Hobbs’ book discusses the life of struggle experienced by Peace, Hobbs’ roommate at Yale University.

Growing up in the rough streets of Newark in the 1980s, Peace possessed a gifted mind, but was forced to conceal it from others to escape abuse. While his mother worked hard making no more than $15,000 a year, his father was incarcerated for most of his life.

Harris asserted questions about the struggles of African Americans such as those expressed in Peace’s own life. She asked why African Americans tend to be viewed more negatively in society for being intelligent rather than athletic.

The audience interactively discussed race issues such as racial profiling, stereotypes and discrimination. After graduating from Yale University with a degree in molecular biochemistry, Peace returned to Newark. He became involved in drug dealing and died at the young age of 30 in a shooting.

Harris addressed how drug use from an early age may have affected Peace’s short life as well as returning to his crime ridden home after college.

She concluded the discussion with a quote from Benjamin Franklin stating, “Justice and progress will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

She urged audience members to address race problems within the community in order to positively influence communities around us.

Books Sandwiched In’s next lunch and book discussion will be held on Tuesday, March 28 from 6:30-8 p.m. in the East Tennessee History Center auditorium.

The lecture will discuss a book called Kindred by Octavia Butler and will be presented by Michelle Commander, a professor of English and African Studies at the University of Tennessee.

 

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Featured Image by Casey Vincent