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Waldo Reads Together offers two online events in Feb., March

Feb 05, 2021

Belfast — Waldo Reads Together is hosting two upcoming online events in partnership with the University of Maine Hutchinson Center, in support of Waldo County’s first one book project. Registration is now open for “Using Technology to Document Racial Violence: On Finding History We Don't Want to Remember” on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and “The Nickel Boys, Historical Context and Contemporary Applications” on Thursday, March 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

These two events, which serve to further conversations around Waldo Reads Together’s 2021 book selection, Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Nickel Boys," will be held via Zoom. There is no cost to participate though advance registration is required. The programs will be recorded and made available online with captions. More information is available on Aging Well in Waldo County’s website.

The Feb. 25 program will feature Karen Sieber, who will speak about her work as a historian tracking down documentation of ugly and often forgotten moments in history, both nationwide and here in Maine. Sieber will discuss how advances in technology have allowed historians like herself to better understand and bring light to the nation's long and often forgotten history of violence against people of color. While the focus will be on her own efforts digitizing hard-to-find documents and mapping data about violence, she will also discuss how others have used technological advances to better understand history, such as the use of ground-penetrating radar and DNA analysis in the Dozier School case.

Sieber, who comes from a background in public history and the digital humanities, has made it her mission to increase awareness about the Red Summer of 1919, the term given to a nationwide wave of violence against African Americans that year. Over the past five years she has built the world’s largest virtual database and archive on the topic, Visualizing the Red Summer, which is now the most used classroom resource on the Red Summer in the nation. Her work has been featured or cited by the National Archives, American Historical Association, History Channel, Zinn Education Project and others. Sieber recently discovered a previously undocumented case of Red Summer violence at the University of Maine that year. Two African American brothers, Samuel and Roger Courtney, were tarred and feathered by their fellow students. The incident was kept out of the press and university records and never included in Red Summer data until now. Learn more about her work at

The March 11 program will feature David Patrick and Desiree Vargas of Racial Equity & Justice, who will facilitate a dialogue around the historical context and contemporary applications of "The Nickel Boys." More information about Racial Equity and Justice is online.

As an advocate for communities of color, Patrick supports families, individuals and students through his work as a co-founder of Racial Equity & Justice and Associate Director of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine. He combines experimental knowledge, social work education and clinical problem-solving skills to build cross-cultural relationships, offer consultation and provide mediation. Patrick's focus is working with strategic partners, stakeholders and community leaders for policy development, policy implementation and community change. As a speaker, writer and facilitator, he offers candid reflections of his experiences as a person of color in both public and private life. As a social worker, Patrick supports adoptive families with post-adoption support resources, advocacy and mentorship. In addition, he has spent many years working with some of our most vulnerable neighbors through his work with individuals struggling with housing and homelessness, substance use disorders & recovery and Crisis Intervention. Gardening is not only a method of healing for Patrick, but a resilient form of supporting and feeding his family and community members.

As an Indigenous woman of color and an anthropology scholar, Vargas navigates advocating for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people uniquely with a focus on redistribution of resources and cultural preservation. Her skill set includes racial justice advocacy, anti-gender-based violence advocacy (trauma-informed healing, MMIWGT2S, & campus safety), harm reduction activism, administration, keynote speaking, heart-centered decolonization consultation, grant writing, workshop and training facilitation, public relations, community organizing, youth behavioral health work and childcare. Additionally, she is involved in various initiatives in her tribe and greater community. Vargas' favorite work includes community education, Land Back Projects, Land access for cultural activities and stewardship and cultural preservation for the next generation. Her experiences and education equip her with expertise in her work at Racial Equity and Justice. She relies on her culture, relationship with earth, and herbal remedies as pathways to healing and enthusiastically encourages others to embrace fully their own traditional ancestral healing as a form of liberation and resilience.

For more information about these events or Waldo Reads Together, contact Wendy Kasten at or (207) 218-0207.

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