A Choice of Weapons

One Minneapolis One Read

"A Choice of Weapons"

Read the book. Join the conversation. One Minneapolis One Read is Minneapolis’ community read where everyone in town is invited to read the same book. This will be the third year of the citywide "read," where the entire community is encouraged to read a single book and join in a community conversation.

The book is "A Choice of Weapons" by Gordon Parks. Gordon Parks--photographer for Life magazine, writer, composer, artist, and filmmaker--was only 16 in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota, after his mother's death. This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him, and launch his distinguished career, by choosing the weapons given him by "a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred."


Student artists lead tours of Gordon Parks photography exhibit – exhibit is free and open to the public through June 6

Dec. 27, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) Students who have been inspired by world-renowned photographer Gordon Parks will help others learn about his work as part of One Minneapolis One Read, Minneapolis’ community read. The public can now join student docents on tours of the photography exhibit, A Choice of Weapons: A Living Legacy, at Mill City Museum Commons through June 6. The exhibit features photographs by Gordon Parks on loan from the Gordon Parks Foundation alongside photographs by students who participated in the One Minneapolis One Read photography residency at Juxtaposition Arts. The students worked with nationally acclaimed photographer Jamel Shabazz.

The docent-led exhibit tours are free, open to the public and available by reservation only. To join a tour Fridays 10-11 a.m. or Saturdays 2-3 p.m., send your request at least a week in advance to oneread@minneapolismn.gov. The Mill City Museum is located at 704 S. Second St.

Artist-in-residency program and exhibit to explore the legacy of Gordon Parks and contemporary African-American life

Oct. 2, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis residents will have a unique opportunity to see a collection of photos by Gordon Parks on loan from The Gordon Parks Foundation. The exhibit will also feature approximately 30 photographs created by Minneapolis high school students.

Taking inspiration from Parks’ book A Choice of Weapons, the students will work with acclaimed photographer Jamel Shabazz at Juxtaposition Arts to create their own photographs. Shabazz will work with the students in early October during a week-long artist residency.

The following “A Living Legacy” events are free and open to the public:

•             Oct. 11: Photography workshop with Jamel Shabazz, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., Juxtaposition Arts. RSVP at oneread@minneapolismn.gov or 612-673-2509.

•             Oct. 24: Panel discussion and exhibit opening reception, 7 p.m., Mill City Museum. RSVP at oneread@minneapolismn.gov or 612-673-2509.

•             Oct. 24, 2013-June 8, 2014: Photography exhibit on display at Mill City Museum.

•            Oct. 24-Dec. 1, 2013: Companion exhibit on display at Juxtaposition Arts.

•            December to June: Minneapolis high school students will serve as docents, leading school groups through the exhibit. RSVP for a free tour at oneread@minneapolismn.gov or 612-673-2509.

•             Nov. 7: Exhibit opening reception and artist talk with Jamel Shabazz, 5-7 p.m., Juxtaposition Arts. RSVP at info@juxtaposition.org.

For more information about these and other events visit the One Minneapolis One Read website.

About the artist in residence

Shabazz is an award-winning photographer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has drawn influence from Gordon Parks, James Van Der Zee, Robert Capa, Chester Higgins and Eli Reed. Shabazz is also known for his community-based youth work.

 About Juxtaposition Arts

Juxtaposition Arts is a youth contemporary arts program, teen-staffed design firm and nonprofit cultural development center that anchors a diverse neighborhood in north Minneapolis.

Juxtaposition’s mission is to develop community by engaging and employing young urban artists in hands-on education initiatives that create pathways to self-sufficiency while actualizing creative power. We envision the youth of north Minneapolis entering the creative workforce as dynamic innovators and problem solvers with the confidence, skills, and connections they need to accomplish their goals and contributed to the revitalization of the communities where they live and work.

Juxtaposition believes that the creative genius of youth is an underutilized community asset. Since 1995, the organization has nurtured connections between underserved Twin Cities’ youth and artists and the region’s vibrant art and design communities.

 About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

Find out about One Minneapolis One Read in this short video.

Join the conversation.

September 12, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) Many events are now posted to the calendar for the month of October and beyond. Check out the calendar under the “EVENTS” tab above. If you would like to host a One Read event, please email oneread@minneapolismn.gov.

One Minneapolis One Read presentation at Minneapolis City Council

June 13, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) One Minneapolis One Read Steering Committee members encouraged Minneapolis City Council members to “Read the Book. Join the Conversation.” You can watch the presentations here:

“A Choice of Weapons” by Gordon Parks

Minneapolis will read “A Choice of Weapons” for third year of community read

The public helped choose the One Minneapolis One Read book

April 12, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) The next One Minneapolis One Read book will be “A Choice of Weapons” by Gordon Parks. This will be the third year of the citywide “read,” where the entire community is encouraged to read a single book and join in a community conversation. To help identify books that would be a good choice for the community read, the public submitted more than 300 recommendations. “A Choice of Weapons” was among the titles that came from the public.

Read the book

This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him and launch his distinguished career by choosing the weapons given him by “a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred.”

Gordon Parks (1912 – 2006) – photographer for Life magazine, writer, composer, artist and filmmaker – was only 16 in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to Saint Paul, Minn., after his mother’s death. There, homeless and hungry, he began his fight to survive, to educate himself, and to “prove my worth.” Working as a janitor, railroad porter, musician, or basketball player in such places as Saint Paul, Chicago and New York, Parks struggled against poverty and racism. He taught himself photography with a secondhand camera, worked for black newspapers, and began to document the poverty among African Americans on Chicago’s South Side. Then his photographic work brought him to Washington, D.C., as first a photographer with the federal Farm Security Administration and later a war correspondent during World War II.

Serving on the book selection committee were:

  • Jocelyn Hale, executive director, The Loft Literary Center
  • Carolyn Holbrook, instructor, Minneapolis Community & Technical College; adjunct assistant professor of English, Creative Writing, Dept. of English, Hamline University
  • Eric Lorberer, editor, Rain Taxi
  • Char Myers, project manager, Minneapolis Public Schools
  • John Quincy, council member, Minneapolis City Council
  • Lois Langer Thompson,  library director, Hennepin County Library

One Read

At its heart, One Minneapolis One Read is a community-driven effort with individuals, neighborhood groups, educators, businesses and nonprofits all coming together to make this a truly citywide read.

“A Choice of Weapons” is available in paperback at local independent and chain bookstores, online booksellers and Minnesota Historical Society Press. It’s also available through Hennepin County Library.

Join the conversation: get involved

Now that the book selection has been announced, you can get involved by engaging your family, school, workplace and book club by reading the book. This fall, there will be events and opportunities to join in conversations about the book. Neighborhood groups, book clubs, libraries, literary centers and others can get involved by holding public events where folks can come together to discuss the book.

The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Schools are promoting literacy and respectful public dialogue in this initiative. Minneapolis residents can play a positive role in their communities and explore important – sometimes difficult – issues that they face as a community by reading “A Choice of Weapons” and getting involved.

For more information and to get involved: visit www.facebook.com/OneMinneapolisOneRead, www.twitter.com/minneapolisread or email oneread@minneapolismn.gov.

Here’s some background on the book selection process:

The book selection committee showed particular interest in nominations that provide a vehicle for conversations on diversity, inclusiveness, integration and race. As the city’s demographics continue to change, One Read provides a meaningful and broad welcome into civic participation. The book should follow nicely on the standard set by the first and second One Read books.

The selected book will correspond with One Read’s overall goals that reading this book together as a community will:

  • Bring family members and neighbors together around the joy of reading and discussion.
  • Encourage conversation about race, family relationships and neighborhood history.
  • Reconnect neighbors and family members separated by race, culture and generational divide.
  • Build a welcoming community that is willing to preserve and learn our history in the context of race.

Useful characteristics for the selected book include:

  • Minnesota author or tie to Minneapolis or Minnesota.
  • Touches on issues related to diversity.
  • Under 300 pages.
  • Accessible for teens.
  • Access to discussion questions.
  • Available as an e-book.
  • Stand-alone chapters.
  • Works with school curriculum.
  • Written in the last five years.
  • Author availability to visit, engage, etc.



Get more information and or get involved in one minneapolis one read.

Email: oneread@minneapolismn.gov

Phone: Jenny Chayabutr: 612.673.2509

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