Gaines  (copy)

Ernest J. Gaines

In a celebration of Black History Month, “Gather at the River: A Tribute to Ernest J. Gaines” will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the seminar center in the State Library, 701 N. Fourth St.

The presentation is free and open to the public, and attendees are welcome to bring a lunch. Registration is not required.

The program, sponsored by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the Louisiana State Library, will be hosted by Gaines' close friend, Darrell Bourque, a Gaines Center board member and two-time state poet laureate, along with several authors, poets and others who had personal connections to Gaines. They will read favorite passages from his work.

Gaines was born and raised in Pointe Coupee Parish, which served as the backdrop for many of his works, including the Pulitzer Prize-nominated and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel "A Lesson Before Dying." He went on to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, have a literary excellence award named in his honor and to be chosen in 2000 as the first recipient of the annual Louisiana Writer Award presented by the Center for the Book.

“The arc of Gaines’s novels and dramatizations of them, such as 'The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman' and 'A Lesson Before Dying,' as well as his own life lived through the civil rights movement, provide lessons in black history for America,” said Rebecca Hamilton, state librarian. “An enduring legacy of Gaines is the impact his work will continue to have in raising our country’s awareness of the racial and social divides that remain as important today as ever.”

Program participants will include Marcia Gaudet, founder and board president of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Cheylon Woods, director of the Gaines Center; state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson; and Gaines’s wife, Dianne Gaines, among others.

For more information, visit the State Library of Louisiana website.