Hoosiers are invited to join in the statewide reads of Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake and Ashley Bryan’s Freedom over Me as part of Indiana Humanities’ Advancing Racial Equity project, which supports discussions of history and memory and how engaging with our past can help us understand contemporary injustices and strive for racial equity. The heart of One State / One Story is communities coming together to talk about either All That She Carried (adult selection) or Freedom over Me (children’s selection). Indiana Humanities is providing $750 grants, books and promotional materials for host organizations to design and implement programs in 2024.
What is a Community Read?
About Community Reads
A Community Read is a series of three or more programs that explore the themes and ideas of Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake and Ashley Bryan’s Freedom over Me. Taking place at up to 30 locations throughout Indiana in 2024, at least one of the programs offered is a book discussion, because there’s nothing better than talking about great books with curious people. Other events might be speaker programs, community conversations, exhibits, hands-on activities and more.
How to Apply
To apply, review the project director guidelines and program guides to learn more about the program and select the book you will focus your Community Read on. Then fill out an application form by Nov. 10, 2023.
Applicants will be notified by the end of November, training webinars will be offered in early December, and programs can begin after Jan. 1, 2024.
Indiana Humanities provides the following resources to Community Read Hosts:
- $750 grant
- Up to 30 copies of All That She Carried or 5 copies of Freedom over Me
- Fun swag to build excitement about your Community Read
- Program guide with discussion questions, short essays and more
- A recorded facilitation training that can help you or whoever is leading your book discussion create a meaningful conversation
- A speakers bureau with talks about race, racism, and the Black experience in Indiana and beyond
- Program logos and other downloadable promotional collateral
Community Read hosts are Indiana not-for-profits and are required to host at least three programs, one of which must be a book discussion. Hosts must also attend an online training webinar and submit all required reporting information to Indiana Humanities. Read the project director guidelines to learn more about the requirements for host organizations.
About the Books
All That She Carried by Tiya Miles
FROM THE PUBLISHER: In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis, the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag with a few precious items as a token of love and to try to ensure Ashley’s survival. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.
Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language— including Rose’s wish that “It be filled with my Love always.” Ruth’s sewn words, the reason we remember Ashley’s sack today, evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. Now, in this illuminating, deeply moving new book inspired by Rose’s gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives—and the lives of so many women like them—to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.
The search to uncover this history is part of the story itself. For where the historical record falls short of capturing Rose’s, Ashley’s, and Ruth’s full lives, Miles turns to objects and to art as equally important sources, assembling a chorus of women’s and families’ stories and critiquing the scant archives that for decades have overlooked so many. The contents of Ashley’s sack— a tattered dress, handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, “my Love always”—are eloquent evidence of the lives these women lived. As she follows Ashley’s journey, Miles metaphorically unpacks the bag, deepening its emotional resonance and exploring the meanings and significance of everything it contained.
All That She Carried is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. It honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today.
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
FROM THE PUBLISHER: Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a person with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.
Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as…a lantern.
This gentle yet deeply powerful way goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that can’t be bought or sold: dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” the author has created collages around that document, and others like it.
Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry, he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an overseer or madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.
About the Authors
Tiya Miles is a professor of history at Harvard University, the author of six prize-winning works in the history of early American race relations and a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She is the founder and director of the Michigan-based ECO Girls program and the author of the National Book Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling All That She Carried. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ashley Bryan (1923–2022) grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he shared the joy of song with children. A beloved illustrator, he was named a Newbery Honoree for his picture book, Freedom Over Me. He also received the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; was a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer; a Coretta Scott King Award winner; and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Freedom Over Me; Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lived in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.
Resources for Hosting a Community Read
Curious about what goes into a Community Read? Check out these resources as you apply to host a Community Read.
One State / One Story is supported in part by the Buckingham Foundation.