By Morin Bishop, lifetime writer and editor and current co-owner of Womrath Bookshop
June 23, 2021: If you’re looking for informative and enlightening non-fiction that won’t require months to plow through (like today’s doorstop-sized biographies), you’ll love On Juneteenth, Pulitzer Prize winner Annette Gordon-Reed’s touching meditation on her beloved home state of Texas and the genesis of the Juneteenth holiday celebrating the end of slavery.
The slim volume (just 141 pages) is part memoir and part history as Gordon-Reed weaves nicely turned tales from her Texas youth into a fascinating examination of the state’s history, infinitely more complex than the stereotypes of cowboys, Indians and the Wild West so often imagined by Easterners. Spaniards, Mexicans, white settlers, Native Americans and African-American slaves all played pivotal roles in the formation of the state, and racism—violent, virulent, and utterly unchecked in the early days—was everywhere to be seen. Just one of several illuminating insights: Stephen Austin, hailed as a hero in Texas’s drive for independence from Mexico, was unabashedly pro-slavery, believing that his goal of widespread white settlement could only be achieved in a slave state. Thankfully, the black community in Texas survived these racist roots, and eventually thrived.
“When asked, as I have been very often,” writes Gordon-Reed, “to explain what I love about Texas, given all that I know about what has happened there—and still is happening there—the best response I can give is that this is where my first family and connections were. . . We can’t be of real service to the hopes we have for places—and people, ourselves included—without a cleareyed assessment of their (and our) strengths and weaknesses. Striking the right balance can be exceedingly hard. I hope I’ve achieved the proper equilibrium.” By the time you finish this wonderfully effortless piece of writing, I know you’ll agree that she did.
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.
The Bronxville Public Library traces its origins back to 1875, when it was a small lending library housed in a room attached to the “Bronxville Model School.” The Library was officially chartered in 1906 and moved into the Village Hall Building. The needs of the library grew with the town and, in 1942, a new standalone building was erected, which is where the Library is today. Over the years, the Library was renovated and expanded to meet the needs of the community.
The Library has wonderful resources for adults and children and offers a comfortable and relaxing environment. The Library also houses a fine art collection, consisting principally of Bronxville painters and sculptors.
The Library offers special events, art exhibitions, and programs for adults, young adults and children. All events are open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.
The Bronxville Public Library
201 Pondfield Road (Midland Avenue & Pondfield Road)
Concordia Conservatory, a preeminent center for music education in Westchester County, is a welcoming community where children and adults find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening to, and participating with others in music. Concordia Conservatory, a community outreach division of Concordia College, offers top quality music programs for early childhood, youth, adults and seniors. The Conservatory's vision is to enrich the lives of the people in our community through music.
Executive Director: Kathleen Suss
Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art
171 White Plains Rd
99B Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708
117 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708