President Obama, Ava DuVernay bring ‘A Promised Land’ to L.A. Times Community Book Club

Former President Barack Obama and filmmaker Ava DuVernay
(Pari Dukovic; ARRAY)

Former President Barack Obama will join the Los Angeles Times Community Book Club April 21 to discuss his memoir “A Promised Land” with filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

The free virtual book club event will stream at 7 p.m. PDT on the Los Angeles Times Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter. Sign up on Eventbrite for direct links.

“A Promised Land” takes readers inside Obama’s improbable journey, from his political awakening at Occidental College, to finding his way as a community organizer and young senator from Chicago, to the day-to-day grind of his grassroots campaign to become the nation’s first Black president.

"A Promised Land" by Barack Obama.
(Penguin Random House)

The bestselling memoir covers the first 2½ years of Obama’s presidency and is the first of two volumes.

Times White House reporter Eli Stokols called “A Promised Land” a fast-moving narrative that “puts the reader in the room at defining moments.”

“Obama draws a textured portrait of himself as a rookie executive — seeking counsel from aides, sneaking cigarettes on the Truman Balcony, frustrated by the constraints on his ambitious agenda but undaunted in pursuing it, even at a steep political cost,” Stokols writes.

“A Promised Land,” out Tuesday in a worldwide release, eloquently and ruefully documents the first two and a half years of Obama’s presidency.

Nov. 16, 2020


In the first chapter, Obama talks about arriving in Los Angeles from Hawaii in 1979 to start college.

“The two years I spent at Occidental represented the start of my political awakening,” he writes in this book excerpt. “But that didn’t mean I believed in politics. With few exceptions, everything I observed about politicians seemed dubious: the blow-dried hair, the wolfish grins, the bromides and self-peddling on TV while behind closed doors they curried the favor of corporations and other monied interests. They were actors in a rigged game, I decided, and I wanted no part of it.

“What did capture my attention was something broader and less conventional — not political campaigns but social movements, where ordinary people joined together to make change. ... Most of all I was inspired by the young leaders of the civil rights movement — not just Dr. King but John Lewis and Bob Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash.”

Former President Barack Obama in conversation with filmmaker Ava DuVernay RSVP to watch this free event Wednesday, April 21 | 7 pm PT

“A Promised Land” is the April selection of The Times’ community book club. On April 21, Obama will join Times readers to discuss his memoir with DuVernay, the award-winning writer, producer and director.

DuVernay directed the Oscar-winning civil rights drama “Selma,” the social justice documentary “13th” and the Disney adventure “A Wrinkle in Time.” In 2019, she created, wrote, produced and directed the Emmy Award-winning limited series “When They See Us.”


The book club debuted in spring 2019 to build on the annual Festival of Books and to keep the storytelling and conversations going year-round. Every month, we share a book club selection and invite everyone to read along. We then host a community book club evening with the featured author and invite readers to join that too.

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May 12, 2023