Join the Center for Community Engagement’s AmeriCorps’ MLK Day of Service book club on A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History this winter term. 

Book Cover image: A More Beautiful and Terrible History by Jeanne Theoharis

This winter term, CCE AmeriCorps VISTAs Jilly dos Santos and Tenzin Dorjee invite you to join a 4-week-long, fully-funded book club on A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History as part of the Center for Community Engagement’s participation in AmeriCorps’ MLK Day of Service. We chose this book because it focuses on the dangerous distortions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s and other civil rights leaders’ legacies and it provides a framework for understanding the complex history of racial justice in America. Our goal is to hold thoughtful discussions so that participants can more critically engage in anti-racist community engagement. We want participants to ask themselves, what really was MLK’s philosophy on civic engagement? How do my efforts (to be anti-racist, to promote fair housing, to fight against wage inequality, etc) support that philosophy or contradict it? What can I do with this information? 

We will meet over Zoom to discuss these questions and more each Thursday 5pm-6:30pm EST starting Thursday, January 21st! Participants will receive each week’s topic and discussion questions in advance of each meeting.This winter term workshop is possible thanks to support from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Anderson Freeman Resource Center and the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life.

Registration is full! E-mail to be added to the wait list

Book Club Questions

Week 1 - Preface and Introduction: A Misleading Redemption Fable

  • What “fables” about the civil rights movement were you taught growing up?
  • Do these commemorations and tributes bring justice? Does it help or harm the purpose?
  • How do these celebrations/commemoration makes ordinary citizens feel good about the country and themselves?
    • Why does virtually every institution/person feel the need to celebrate/commemorate MLK Day?
  • In what ways does the United States flatter itself with this national fable?
  • How do we continue to prescribe racism through this national fable?
  • Why does the author differentiate between the usage of “the civil rights era” versus “the Black freedom struggle”? 
  • What purpose does the “split-screen” serve politicians/white society?
  • In what ways does focusing the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century on a handful of “heroes and heroines” harm the Black freedom struggle today? 
  • How does the deflection of blame (with education, motivation, values) onto black families harm them even more?

Freedom Riders - Documentary Discussion Feb. 10th, 7pm via Zoom

Be sure to join us, also, for our Zoom discussion on the documentary Freedom Riders - February 10, 2021 from 7-8:30pm EST. Get the details here!

Frequently Asked Questions


Your instructors for this workshop are CCE AmeriCorps volunteers and Midd alums:

Jilly dos Santos -

Tenzin Dorjee -


Format: Synchronous, recurring weekly on Thursdays from January 19-February 19, 2021 5-6pm EST

Duration: 1 hour


No, this workshop is fully funded and books will be provided. 

Center for Community Engagement
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3580