Silicon Valley Reads 2017 kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 23, with the opening appearance of Adam Benforado, author of the New York Times bestseller
Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice. He will be interviewed on stage by Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro at the Visual & Performing Arts Center, De Anza College, Cupertino. Program begins at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 6:45 p.m. for free, open seating.
It is the first of more than 140 free events for adults and children throughout Santa Clara County focused on the theme ". . . and justice for all." Benforado will make 11 additional public appearances in the coming weeks and Shaka Senghor, author of
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, is scheduled for five presentations March 21-23.
Other activities designed to encourage the community to read, think, talk and engage in sharing diverse perspectives about how conscious and unconscious bias can interfere with equal justice include films, panel discussions, book groups, writing workshops and contests for teens, storytimes, family crafts and an art exhibit at the Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College. A complete schedule of events is listed on the website SiliconValleyReads.org.
Special events for Silicon Valley Reads 2017 include:
"Recognizing Our Wrongs," a discussion on Tue., Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at Milpitas Library with panelists Jon R. Gundry, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools and a national leader of the "My Name, My Identity" initiative, Tuyen Flack, Deputy Director of Silicon Valley FACES, and Pastor Ron Buford of the Congregational Community Church in Sunnyvale and a leader of Racists Anonymous.
Staged reading of the Off-Broadway hit play "The Exonerated" on Wed., March 8, 7 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. Local actors will perform the award-winning play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that tells the stories of former Death Row inmates who were exonerated after years of incarceration.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen will speak about the "Race and Prosecutions" study on Tue., March 21, 7 p.m. at Saratoga Library.
"Building Trust with Procedural Justice," a panel discussion on Sunday, March 12, 2 p.m. at Cupertino Community Hall with three local police chiefs – Dennis R. Burns, recently retired Palo Alto Chief of Police, David Honda, Watsonville Police Chief, and Phan Ngo, Chief of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. It will be moderated by Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, Mercury News.
"Hiring Without Bias" on Wednesday, March 1, 7 p.m. at Sunnyvale Library features Liz Kofman, Ph.D., staff sociologist at Unitive, discussing how corporations are using technology tools to mitigating unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Maitreya Badami, Assistant Legal Director of the Northern California Innocence Project, will describe their work in helping falsely imprisoned people regain their freedom in two presentations. One is Sunday, Feb. 26, 2 p.m. at Cupertino Community Hall and one is Saturday, March 18, 2 p.m. at Gilroy Library.
This is the 15th anniversary of Silicon Valley Reads which is presented by the Santa Clara County Library District, San José Public Library and Santa Clara County Office of Education. In addition to the public programs, Silicon Valley Reads is partnering with a dozen public elementary and high schools on educational programs reflecting the theme "… and justice for all."
For further information, visit the website SiliconValleyReads.org or email
The annual community engagement program that asks everyone in Silicon Valley to read, think, discuss and share diverse perspectives will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2017 by exploring the theme “. . . and justice for all.” The centerpiece of the conversation will be two books -- Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado and Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor. Unfair is a New York Times bestseller that uses dozens of real-life vignettes and research studies to show how innate bias about race, gender, appearance, education and economic status can influence fair treatment at every step of the legal system. The author proposes that technology and scientific advancements could be used to instill more equity into the system.
Writing My Wrongs, also a New York Times bestseller, is a powerful memoir of Senghor’s 19-year incarceration for homicide, seven years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He used this time to discover literature, meditation, self-examination and the kindness of others – tools he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive people who had hurt him and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Silicon Valley Reads 2017 will kick off on Thursday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at De Anza College in Cupertino where Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro will interview author Benforado. Admission is free with open seating on a first come basis. It is co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley and De Anza College. Both Benforado and Senghor will make multiple appearances in Silicon Valley through March. Schedule information about these talks and other Silicon Valley Reads events will be posted on the website
SiliconValleyReads.org in early January. The Kick-Off will also provide an extra opportunity for attendees to visit the “Justice for All?” multi-media exhibition at the Euphrat Museum of Art, located adjacent to the theater on the De Anza campus, before the event, starting at 6:30 p.m., or afterwards until 9:30 p.m. The exhibit will bring together artists exploring the intersections of criminal and social justice and runs through March 23. Visit
DeAnza.edu/euphrat/inthemuseum for more information on days and times.
“I wrote Unfair because I wanted everyone to understand the hidden forces that lead to criminal injustice,” said Benforado, a professor of law at Drexel University who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and has an undergraduate degree from Yale University. “The failure of our legal system has been a defining issue in the U.S. over the last year. TV shows like “Making a Murderer,” “Bull,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” “Amanda Knox,” and “The Night Of” have riveted the public, while instances of police brutality and resulting protests have dominated news headlines. To make progress in our fight against abuse, unequal treatment and wrongful convictions, we must come together as a community to consider the psychological biases that shape the behavior of judges, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, police officers -- and all of the rest of us. Silicon Valley is the perfect place to have this conversation.” Silicon Valley Reads 2017 is presented by the Santa Clara County Library District, the San José Public Library and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Each year, the program collaborates with community organizations to promote reading and literacy and to engage the community in dialogue about themes in a selected book or books that are relevant to Silicon Valley. Events will be scheduled throughout Santa Clara County with activities for all age groups. For more information, visit the website