It has been a couple of weeks, but I am still riding high from our author event with Madeleine Albright where over 2,500 people packed the Kaiser Permanente Arena for a discussion with the Secretary about her viewpoint on history, current affairs, and the future of our democracy. Right before we went on stage, I was with her in the green room watching the State of the Union address and had to pinch myself. She told me about her experience walking the cabinet down the aisle for the State of the Union and how it was the first time a woman lead the cabinet in that important walk forward. What a moment, then and now.
The entire experience of Secretary Albright’s event went to the heart of Bookshop’s new year-long programming effort deemed 2020 Vision. The idea is to hold author events, curate reading lists, and create community partnerships to look at where we, as a country, have been, gain clarity on our current state of affairs, and define with vision where we as a society want to go in 2020 and beyond. Secretary Albright shed light on the rise of fascism in the 20th century, how it reflects where we might be heading today, and gave us insight into what we might do as a society to prop up our democratic institutions if they are under threat.
Even with the severity of the threat to our democracy, I am hopeful. I asked Secretary Albright if she had any pushback from her appointment as Secretary of State for not being born in the United States. She explained that it wasn’t her citizenship that threatened her appointment, but the fact that she was a woman. At first people reasoned that foreign leaders, especially from Arab countries, wouldn’t negotiate with her. In fact, a group of diplomats from Arab nations signed a letter declaring that they would be happy to work with Secretary Albright just as they had at the United Nations. What it revealed was that it was really people within the U.S. who were uncertain if a woman could hold the title of Secretary of State. She had to overcome that hurdle, and in doing so, paved a path for future generations of women to serve at the highest levels of government. Seeing the large numbers of women elected in this past election is proof that times continue to change, and that might very well be the key to our ability to hold off the threats that imperil our democracy.
Bookshop's next 2020 Vision event will be Patrice Vecchione's April 11th visit for her upcoming book, Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience. This collection of poems addresses issues of young adult immigrants and refugees. Matt de la Pena says, “This is the most important book we will read this year.” It is a perfect moment to understand the many paths of immigrants and refugees over their first and second generation experiences and help us define how we can be allies in empathy and support to these important members of our country.
Please join us all this year as we develop our 2020 Vision.
Casey Coonerty Protti
Bookshop Santa Cruz