University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Humanities Center

UVM Humanities Center, Mayor Miro Weinberger Launch Burlington Book Group

book club announcment
Mayor Miro Weinberger and Professor David Jenemann announce new UVM/Burlington book club collaboration.

Preceding the tolling of bells from the city hall tower, part of a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mayor Miro Weinberger, along with Professor David Jenemann, co-director of the university’s Humanities Center, announced the launch of the Mayor’s Book Group, an initiative designed to create a shared community experience through reading and thoughtful dialogue. The inaugural book selection, to honor and examine the legacy of the landmark legislation being celebrated, is the recently released An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Parties, Two Presidents, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by top Washington journalist Todd S. Purdum.

According to NPR, Purdum has created “a layered narrative” in which he recreates “the legislative maneuvering and the larger-than-life characters” who made the law’s passage possible -- from John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Senators Everett Dirksen and Hubert Humphrey, along with a cast of lesser known players in the unfolding bi-partisan drama. Collectively engaging with this critical history, according to Jenemann, is a means of defining participatory democracy.

“The Center works to build civic and intellectual communities both within the university and outside its walls by bringing people together to explore topics and ideas that impact today’s real-world issues,” Jenemann said. “We see the humanistic disciplines as essential to that engagement.”

As part of its collaboration with the city, the UVM Humanities Center will purchase books for the first 200 participants. For more information about the book group, and to learn how to obtain a copy of An Idea Whose Time Has Come, which will be available for pick up at the Fletcher Free Library, direct email to