The John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Program 2021

2021 Selection - The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines 

Cover of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines

Visit our online Exhibition here



Programs and Events 
Book Discussion Hosted by Rogers Free Library 

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Zoom Meeting (Click here for more information.) 
Time: 7:00 pm 
Instructor: Susan Tacent, PhD   

A One-Evening Writing Workshop Presented by Rogers Free Library  

Title: Make it Come Alive! — Ernest Gaines, Miss Jane Pittman, and the Power of Storytelling 
Date: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, Zoom Meeting (Click here to Register for the workshop.) 
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 pm 
Instructor: Susan Tacent, PhD 

Talking About Race Through Storytelling & Music 

A keynote panel in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ernest J. Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman 

Danzy Senna, Michael White, and Cheylon Woods
Date: March 15, 2021
Time: 7:00 PM
Where: Virtual Register Here

 Cosponsored by the John Howard Birss Memorial Fund; the Mary Tefft White “Talking in the Library” Endowment; The Gaines Center, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Danzy Senna is the author of five critically acclaimed books of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, Caucasia, won the Book of the Month Award for First Fiction and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. The book was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Her other books include the novel, Symptomatic, the memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, and the short story collection, You Are Free. Her latest book, New People, is a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class, and manners in contemporary America. Named a 2017 Best Summer Read by Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar among others, New People was a Best Book of the Year for The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, Time Magazine, and NPR.

Dr. Michael White is an accomplished, multi-faceted New Orleans-based clarinetist, bandleader, composer, musicologist, jazz historian, and educator widely regarded as one of the leading authorities and culture-bearers of traditional New Orleans jazz music. He has performed in over two dozen foreign countries, played on over 50 recordings, received countless awards, made multiple national television appearances, and been featured in major media publications. He reached at Xavier University.

Cheylon Woods, Assistant Professor and Archivist/Head of Ernest J. Gaines Center, received her MLIS from LSU. After completion of her MA in Heritage Resources from Northwestern State University, she was awarded an IMLS (Institute of Museum & Library Studies) fellowship through HistoryMarkers (oral history archive based out of Chicago) where she was assigned to work as an Archivist at the Alabama State Department of Archives and History. She has presented at annual meetings for Society of American Archivists and worked on numerous public programs for the Alabama Department of Archives and History specializing in preservation and displaying historical documents and artifacts.