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DC Public Library Launches Public Square

What are we talking about when we talk about equity and racial justice? How will leaders advocating for social change and the scholars who study it know that their ideas are meeting the moment? The DC Public Library hopes to help explore the next frontier of equity through a conversation series called “The Public Square.”
In celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library's 50th anniversary, the Public Square will bring leaders and innovators to the Library to discuss the next phase of their work or scholarship. Traditional prepared and packaged speeches will be replaced by engaging conversations designed to move their work or scholarship forward.
Through moderated discussions, attendees will get a deeper understanding of the speaker's ideas and help inform the next phase of their work.
“For more than half a century, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library has hosted some of the nation's most important civil rights voices," said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive Director of the DC Public Library. “The Public Square will add to those voices by connecting District residents to thought leaders for engaging conversations that drive us closer to an understanding of justice and how far we are from achieving it."
The series begins on January 18 with Pulitzer-prize-winning author and Dean of Columbia Journalism School Dr. Jelani Cobb. A long-time writer for The New Yorker, and editor of its recent anthology collection “The Matter of Black Lives,” Cobbs’ work is described as having the “rigor and depth of a professional historian with the alertness of a reporter, the liberal passion of an engaged public intellectual, and the literary flair of a fine writer.” Cobbs will discuss the intersection of race and culture and how our future will be determined by how we grapple with our history. Washington Post journalist Keith Alexander will interview Cobbs and moderate the conversation with the public.
Other conversations in the series will be held with author, advocate and writer Brittany Packett Cunningham in February and writer and storyteller Gabby Rivera in March. Additional events will be added throughout the year.
The Public Square is presented in partnership with the DC Public Library Foundation and Pepco, an Exelon Company. For more information, visit
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is located at 901 G St. NW, near the Metro Center and Gallery Place Metro stations