On October 11, Kean University’s Common Read Program presented its second annual Common Read event. This year’s book is George M. Johnson’s "All Boys Aren’t Blue".
"All Boys Aren’t Blue" is a memoir-manifesto following Johnson’s memories of growing up Black and queer. The book includes detailed chapters and scenes that Johnson experienced from birth to college.
“It was me freeing the three-year-old in me that still had something to say. It was me freeing the 13-year-old me that had something to say. It was me freeing the 20-year-old me that had something to say,” said Johnson about writing the memoir.
This year’s book was chosen and voted for by the students. The Common Read Program asked the Kean community what book they wanted to read and to leave suggestions. After collecting their choices, students voted on the most recommended books.
“'All Boys Aren’t Blue' has a great, eye-catching cover, an intriguing title, and best of all, Johnson is a New Jersey native,” said Abriana Jetté, Ph.D., lecturer at Kean University's English Department and coordinator of The Common Read. “I think these three things really worked in swaying the community’s vote.”
This year, three major events were dedicated to this year’s Common Read. All events were made possible by the collaborative efforts of the College of Liberal Arts, the School of General Studies, the Human Rights Institute, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The day’s festivities included a book signing, the keynote address and a reception.
The book signing kicked things off at 2 p.m. in the Greek Lounge, even though people were lined up minutes before the session. At the session, the author met students, signed their books and even took some photos with them.
The Keynote Address followed shortly after the signing at 3:30 p.m. Everyone filled the seats of the Wilkins Theatre auditorium, including Johnson’s family members. At the address, the author answered student-based questions and read a section of their book dedicated to their late grandmother, Nanny.
“Even though I didn’t know my queer culture or have the resources to explore it, at least I had a home. I had a home because Nanny ensured it…,” read Johnson.
After the reading, Johnson received a certificate of appreciation from three of our Alpha Phi Alpha members, a fraternity they went to in their college years. The fraternity brothers also ended the address with a performance.
To celebrate the Common Read, a reception was held in the Human Rights Institute gallery. Johnson, their family, and Kean community members enjoyed refreshments and conversed about the Common Read’s success.
This year’s Common Read was educational and moving for all who were involved. Thank you George M. Johnson for letting this be the first college where you talked about "All Boys Aren’t Blue."