Fight for social justice
One of the first author events of 2016 was a cross between a political rally and a revival meeting. More than 100 people crowded into Harvard Book Store on Jan. 7 to celebrate publication of "When We Fight, We Win!: Twenty-First Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming the World" (New Press) by Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte.
Community activist and educator Gibrán Rivera opened the evening by inviting attendees to reflect on and shout out the names of elders and young people who inspire them to fight for social justice. Throughout the evening, speakers periodically led the crowd in repeating the rallying cry "When we fight, we win."
A round of applause broke out as Cambridge resident Jobin-Leeds, a teacher and founder of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, took to the podium. He and a handful of fellow activists who spoke during the event encouraged people to join forces with others fighting for different causes. "I'm alive because people spoke out," said Jobin-Leeds, whose parents managed to escape as Jewish families were being rounded up in Nazi Germany.
Bright, provocative posters and murals are prominently featured in "When We Fight" in addition to interviews with activists working on immigrant rights, prison justice, quality public education, and other issues. Created by an artist in Berkeley, Calif., a poster supporting the human rights of migrant workers states, "If Capital Can Cross Borders, So Can We!"
The high cost of rental housing and the foreclosure crisis were frequently mentioned throughout the evening. Lisa Owens Pinto of the local housing-justice organization City Life/Vida Urbana noted that working people increasingly find Boston and Cambridge unaffordable. City Life, which has partnered with AgitArte to produce art and theater that echoes its message about affordable housing, will host a celebration for the book at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Life headquarters, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain.
The Cambridge book launch adjourned for a dance party at a nearby church, as Rivera encouraged attendees to share their dreams with each other after he said, "Don't miss the opportunity to build a new world tonight."
It will be interesting to hear what a literary power couple contribute to the upcoming panel discussion "Beyond Lolita: Literary Writers on Sex and Sexuality." Cathi Hanauer is editor of the 2002 anthology, "The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood and Marriage" (Morrow). Though she didn't contribute an essay to the collection, she has written elsewhere about the cot she keeps as an alternative to her marital bed. Her husband, Daniel Jones, for the past decade has been editor of the popular Modern Love column in The New York Times. He's also on a new Modern Love podcast produced with WBUR, which jumped up the iTunes Top 20 list last month though it hasn't debuted yet. Also on the panel are Benoit Denizet-Lewis, who wrote a Modern Love column about sex addiction, Jaclyn Friedman, co-editor of "Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape" (Seal), novelist Marjan Kamali, and essayist Amy Monticello. The conversation starts at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 at Porter Square Books in Cambridge.
■ “Warriors of the Storm” by Bernard Cornwell (Harper)
■ “A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service by Robert M. Gates (Knopf)
■ “The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain” by Bill Bryson (Doubleday)
Pick of the Week
Karin Schott of Devaney, Doak & Garrett in Farmington, Maine, recommends "The Guest Room" by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday): "Hopefully by now the revels of the new year have eased for you. This not the case for Richard Chapman, the lead character in Bohjalian's new novel, who regrets the events of a party gone wild."
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.