Denver Talks: Citywide Conversation on Race and Social Justice

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, in partnership with Lighthouse Writers Workshop and NEA Big Read, today announced DENVER TALKS, a citywide effort to bring the community together for safe discussions around race, justice and the award-winning book Citizen: An American Lyric by MacArthur Fellow Claudia Rankine.

“Now more than ever we need to tear down the barriers that divide us and build up the connections that unite us,” Mayor Hancock said. “Our goal is to build a more inclusive and accepting community, and to do that, we need the courage to confront the biases and behaviors that keep us apart.”

Over the next six weeks, DENVER TALKS will distribute more than 1,200 free copies of Citizen: An American Lyric to metro-area residents as well as host a number of book discussions, arts events, guest talks and more. The effort will culminate in a visit from the author, who will join the Mayor in two free community conversations: 

  • November 15, Boettcher Concert Hall, 6:30 p.m.
  • November 16, Metropolitan State University Tivoli Student Union/Turnhalle, 12:30 p.m.

Both events are free, but registration is required for the Nov. 15 event at the Boettcher Concert Hall.

"The Denver Public Library is proud to be a part of these conversations," said City Librarian Michelle Jeske. "The library takes great pride in connecting people with information, ideas and experiences that help make Denver a better place to live, work and play. Denver Talks is an opportunity to bring people together for candid and constructive dialogues about the ways we experience race and social justice in America today."

“Metropolitan State University of Denver is proud to partner with Mayor Hancock, the city of Denver and the other DENVER TALKS sponsors to have these crucial conversations on race relations and better prepare our youth to engage in constructive dialogue and action,” said MSU Denver president Dr. Janine Davidson. “As our Colorado communities become more diverse it will be up to our future generations to be even more creative in harnessing the positives that come from diversity and addressing the challenges that come with differing cultures, mindsets and access to limited resources.”

Thanks to partners including MSU Denver, Denver Public Schools, The Denver Foundation, Denver Public Library and Denver County McDonald’s restaurants, there are many ways to participate in DENVER TALKS. All residents of the metro area are invited to join in as well as to host their own conversations and events. 

The Denver Public Library has copies of Citizen: An American Lyric available, including eBooks, audio eBooks, and book club kits that include six books and a discussion guide. Free books will be available at the DENVER TALKS kickoff party from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Clyfford Still Museum.

In support of reading and literacy programs across Colorado, more information is available at McDonald’s restaurants throughout Denver County.

For more information, visit


About NEA Big Read

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. Annually, the program supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read book.

About Citizen: An American Lyric

Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric looks at racism today, from everyday slights in the classroom and at the supermarket to police shootings nationwide to incidents involving public figures such as Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane. Using a blend of essay, image, and poetry, Rankine thoughtfully examines how these stresses accumulate—impacting the behavior, morale, and potential of individuals and communities.

Citizen is the winner of the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award, the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the 2015 PEN Open Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and the Poets & Writers' Jackson Poetry Prize. It was named a best book of 2015 by the Atlantic, the Guardian, NPR, and more.


About Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, two plays, and numerous video collaborations. Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric won the PEN Open Book Award, the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Rankine is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the NEA. She teaches at Yale University.

Written by ChrisH on October 4, 2017


Tara Jenkins on October 14, 2017


what an amazing idea....!!!! Please, Please .Please do this topic again and again ......... Because the struggle is real and unfair........

John Smith on October 15, 2017


Let me guess "White people are racist", the event.

Rachelz on October 16, 2017


So excited! Claudia Rankine is amazing!
John Smith, you must have read the book b/c you are spot on! Cool!

LisaD on October 18, 2017


Thank you to DPL and all the entities and persons who are making these conversations possible. As a white person, I want to be willing always to learn, to be challenged, to understand that while my personal individual *intent* might be good, there is built in systemic racism that creates negative *impact*. I think that to build relationships and change systems is the way to create a positive impact. Otherwise, I am simply a person who is enjoying the privilege of not having to think about it.

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