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Carroll One Book campaign launches at Westminster library branch

Warren Dorsey and Jack White, both of Sykesville, launch the Carroll One Book campaign with White's book "In Carrie's Footprints: The Long Walk of Warren Dorsey."
Warren Dorsey and Jack White, both of Sykesville, launch the Carroll One Book campaign with White's book "In Carrie's Footprints: The Long Walk of Warren Dorsey." (Michel Elben / Carroll County Times)

With much fanfare, the Carroll One Book campaign commenced at Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster branch on Thursday evening.

The initiative, a partnership between Carroll County Public Schools and the CCPL system, features Sykesville author Jack White’s “In Carrie's Footprints: The Long Walk of Warren Dorsey” as the foundational tome.

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“The hope for the project is that we open up conversations across the county about race, about where we are with race relations in the county, and where we would like them to be in future,” said Val Brown Dennis, a member of the Carroll One Book planning committee.

Thursday’s book discussion at the Westminster library was the first of many activities planned by the Carroll One Book committee. The evening included stories from the book’s subject, Warren Dorsey, who grew up poor in rural Sykesville. Dorsey, the grandson of a slave, overcame war, sickness, and racism to escape his impoverished childhood. He became a successful scientist and eventually a teacher and a school principal.

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“Carroll One Book is a platform for courageous conversation,” explained Brown Dennis. “We looked at several books and chose one that emphasizes local history. The book helps people understand the experience of various groups of people in our community. It’s only when we listen to each other, develop relationships and understand the experience of others that we can move forward to solve the issues that are part of community locally and beyond.”

Dorothy Stoltz, Carroll County Public Library’s director of community engagement, said the idea stemmed from the One Maryland One Book campaign, which encourages everyone in Maryland to read the same book and discuss it.

“It’s an opportunity for us to have conversations around a book many people have loved already,” Stoltz said. “I think it’s a fascinating history of Carroll County. ‘In Carrie’s Footprints’ is a story of overcoming adversity and demonstrates that elements such as respect and goodwill — though they may be intangible — are not frivolous, imponderable or illusory.”

White said it was a total surprise to be chosen as the campaign’s opening book.

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“It’s a really good thing because it’s bringing a lot of publicity to Warren and the book,” White said. “It seems to me that everyone who reads this book gets inspired. They want to learn more about him and what his life was like. It’s a very encouraging book. He’s an example of how you can overcome a lot of adversity through perseverance and determination. It opens eyes and makes people think and makes feel sympathetically.”

An earlier version of the story misidentified Stoltz’s position. She is employed by the Carroll County Public Library.

If you go

What: Book discussion

When and where: 6:30 p.m. March 13 at Carroll County Public Library’s Mount Airy branch, 705 Ridge Ave.; 6:30 p.m. May 15 at the Taneytown branch, 10 Grand Drive

Cost: Free

For more information and a list of all related events, email Val Brown Dennis at vadenni@carrollk12.org.

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