The HB Reads program, which spotlights a book each year about tolerance and human rights, announced this week that it has chosen Terrence Roberts' "Lessons from Little Rock" as its selection for 2013-14.
The nonfiction memoir, written by one of the black students who integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957 and became known as the "Little Rock Nine," is the seventh book spotlighted in the citywide program.
"We're always looking for a message of diversity, and it seemed that this was a good one," said HB Reads founder and chairman Fred Provencher.
Provencher said the book's selection was not in response to any specific event, but race — particularly regarding black Americans — has often been a hot issue. Recent months brought the controversial not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin slaying and the case of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by police in North Carolina.
Some of the summer's high-profile movies, including "Fruitvale Station" and "Lee Daniels' The Butler," have also explored issues of black-white race relations.
Early next year, HB Reads will host a film series and other events around Huntington Beach centered on the themes of "Lessons from Little Rock." Roberts will speak at Huntington Beach High School on March 20.
Jay Asher's young-adult novel "Thirteen Reasons Why," which dealt with the impact of high school bullying, was the program's selection this year. Other recent titles included Temple Grandin's memoir "Emergence: Labeled Autistic," Elva Trevino Hart's immigration tale "Barefoot Heart," and "They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky," written by American author Judy A. Bernstein with three Lost Boys of Sudan.