Birmingham Reads: “To whom does this place belong?”

Birmingham Reads

Thank you for joining  PEN America Birmingham for an interactive community discussion on marginalization, colorism and gentrification. Using Imani Perry’s South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation as a discussion guide, this conversation will cover the themes of racial terror & violence, displacement, and identity.

This event is a part a series of ongoing events within the Birmingham Reads Project, a citywide literary event dedicated to engaging and uniting Birmingham community members in reading one book of fiction or nonfiction in one given year and then discussing it in book groups and at events throughout the city. This year’s selection, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Birmingham native Imani Perry, is a sprawling and ambitious book that brings together the perspective of a distinguished historian and the personal narrative of a native-born southerner to better understand the beauty, tragedy, and soul of this country.

Teaching artist Brianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright lead attendees though a dynamic session to better understand the selected text, conceptually define slavery to understand the complexities and nuances of its legacy, and utilize library resources to explore family history and heritage. 

Please note: You don’t have to have read South to America to enjoy this dynamic and interactive event. 


Brianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright headshotBrianna Jordynn “B.J.” Wright is a writer, educator and scholar based in Birmingham, AL. In 2019, she graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, obtaining her Bachelors of Arts degrees in Anthropology (minor in Women’s Studies) and African American Studies (concentration in Historical Investigation and Cultural Awareness). She is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Africana Studies from Georgia State University (concentration in Community Empowerment). She takes inspiration from classic scholars such as Dr. W.E.B. Du Boise, Zora Neale Hurston, Harold Cruse, Audrey Lorde, Dr. Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, and Toni Morrison. Her current research interests include, but are not limited to the impact of language policing on Black adolescents, the role of Blackness in comics and anime, and conceptually defining the Master’s House.

This project was made possible by: 

In partnership with:

PEN Across America Birmingham chapter logo