The First Ten

Vernon Jordan is a strikingly tall man. When he enters a room, people notice. Evelyn Walker learned this in 2001 when she convinced Jordan to speak in Evansville.

Her request came in support of One Book One Community, a reading program that used a book to ignite conversation in a community and then brought the author to town for a speaking engagement. Walker, then the associate director of the local public library system, heard the idea through a cousin and loved the concept.

2002 was Evansville’s OBOC inaugural event, with Jordan speaking on his memoir Vernon Can Read!. Before his lecture to 1,600 people at Victory Theatre, Jordan and Walker went to Lic’s for ice cream. “He looks like somebody out of GQ,” Walker says, “so everyone in the place turned around to look at him. He smiled and said, ‘I’m Vernon Jordan, and I’m so glad to be in your community. I’m going to buy you all an ice cream cone.’ I stood there and thought, ‘He is a class act.’”

This Nov. 16 marks the 10th year for the event with speaker Annie Barrows, co-author with the late Mary Ann Shaffer of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Their novel weaves a tale based in the German-occupied Guernsey Islands, which will premiere as a movie in 2013.“We’ve had some great people,” Walker says. “Evansville should be very proud.”

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