Michigan Humanities’ statewide program features “What the Eyes Don’t See,” by Mona Hanna-Attisha

Communities across the state are invited to take part in Michigan Humanities’ 2019-20 Great Michigan Read, a statewide reading and discussion program featuring the book “What the Eyes Don’t See,” by physician, scientist, and activist Mona Hanna-Attisha. On September 16, 2019, Michigan Humanities will kick off the Great Michigan Read at the Flint Farmers’ Market with a public event from 5 to 8 p.m. that includes a conversation, Q&A, and book signing with Hanna-Attisha. Event registration is free and available online.

Since 2007, the Great Michigan Read has bridged communities across the state with Michigan-based fiction and non-fiction titles that spark dialogue among diverse perspectives, encourage a deeper understanding of the humanities, and connect thousands of readers with authors and engaging educational programming. Every two years, regional committees composed of teachers, librarians, students, and a wide range of community members select the next Great Michigan Read.

“What the Eyes Don’t See” is Hanna-Attisha’s account of her discovery that Flint’s children were being poisoned by lead in the city’s drinking water. Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, Michigan Humanities president & CEO, said, “As we begin our seventh Great Michigan Read, we are eager to see and hear how Michiganders connect with one another through reading and discussing ‘What the Eyes Don’t See.’ Whether we are taking a closer look at water quality and access, Michigan’s history, or the many intersections of humanities and science, there are countless opportunities for shared learning, and it is Michigan Humanities’ hope that Dr. Mona’s work can help increase civil discourse and community engagement across our state.”

To date, more than 170 Michigan libraries, high schools, colleges and universities, and other non-profit organizations have registered to receive free copies of “What the Eyes Don’t See,” reader’s and teacher’s guides, and promotional materials. From September, 2019, through September, 2020, Hanna-Attisha will visit 20 communities during her author tours across Michigan, and an estimated 10,000 copies of the book will be distributed.

In reflecting on the significance of her book as a Great Michigan Read, Hanna-Attisha said, “From the progressive leadership of Governor Frank Murphy to the hate-filled broadcasts of Father Coughlin, ‘What the Eyes Don’t See’ helps us understand the complexity of Michigan’s past to better solve the problems of today. The most important reason that Michiganders need to read this book is to better understand the Flint water crisis, Michigan’s most emblematic environmental and public health disaster. Learning the lessons of Flint will hopefully embolden all Michiganders to work together to create a state where all our children can thrive.”

Hanna-Attisha was awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America, and named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. An associate professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University, she is also the founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a model program to mitigate the impact of the Flint water crisis so that all Flint children grow up healthy and strong.

The 2019-20 Great Michigan Read title was announced in April, 2019, and is supported by national, statewide, and local partners, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Meijer Foundation, MSU Federal Credit Union, and University of Michigan-Flint. Media partners include: Michigan Radio and WCMU.

Online registration for the September 16 event at Flint Farmers’ Market and additional details about becoming a Great Michigan Read partner are available at our Great Michigan Read page. For more information, contact Katie Wittenauer, Michigan Humanities director of programs, at (517) 372-7770, or kwittenauer@mihumanities.org.