I am so pleased to be embarking on this journey with you! Building Bridges through Books has been a project of Human Rights Pen Pals (HRPP) that I am personally very proud of and excited to see it start after many months of planning and collaboration. We have been collaborating with inside and outside pen pals to create a unique book club that uplifts HRPP’s mission and values, as well as strengthening relationships and building community. What better way to nurture mutual education than through reading and discussing books together, and our collective activity truly transcending the prison walls!
I am envisioning Building Bridges through Books as a book club that inside and outside the prison walls pen pals can fully participate in and have their voices heard. We will all read the same book together, and respond to discussion questions posed by the organizing collective. The answers from everyone’s discussion questions will be collected and distributed to all inside and outside the prison walls book club members. This is an opportunity for us to learn from each other, be critical in our analysis of the book as well as our lived experiences, and to cultivate our relationships with one another.
The first book was chosen by our inside organizers, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This is a very important text and a strong way to begin Building Bridges through Books. I hope you will not be intimidated by the size of the book, or any of the language used by Howard Zinn. Zinn writes in a way that is accessible and easy to understand, and is precise in his analysis of history and oppression. Even though the writing is accessible, be prepared to re-read sections or even entire chapters. A People’s History sheds light on events and narratives that have been purposely left out of history textbooks and lessons taught by teachers. You might be shocked by what you learn and may need to go over the text several times in order to comprehend and internalize the material. Most importantly, do not give up. Knowing this history gives us the ability to name our life and experiences in the broader context of the world. We educate each other in order to liberate all people, those oppressed as well as the oppressors.
Please be sure to read our Purpose, Mission Statement and Objective.
I hope you join us. The power of pen and paper can transcend prison walls, and liberate minds.
In Solidarity and Struggle,