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Coach Greg Gard and Author Andrew Maraniss Highlight Celebration of Literacy

UW-Madison Men’s Basketball Coach Greg Gard will be the emcee at Wisconsin Literacy’s April 11th Celebration of Literacy luncheon that will honor outstanding volunteer tutors, literacy advocates and adult learners from around Wisconsin who have excelled at increasing literacy skills in the state.

The basketball connection is important because the keynote speaker for the celebration is Andrew Maraniss, whose New York Times bestselling book, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, tells the story of the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.

Wallace enrolled in Vanderbilt University in 1966, a campus in transition during the 1960s, and underwent the mental toll of pioneering. Maraniss, the son of well-known Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Maraniss, was born in Madison, grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and two children.

The younger Maraniss studied history at Vanderbilt University and worked five years in media relations in Vanderbilt’s athletic department. He currently is a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville. He has said the book is not strictly a sports book. “It’s really a civil rights story.”

Bob Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post, called the book “a magnificently reported, nuanced but raw account of basketball and racism in the South during the 1960s... Andrew Maraniss tells the story of Perry Wallace’s struggle, loneliness, perseverance and eventual self-realization.” Andrew Maraniss’ speech will tie in examples of Perry Wallace’s strength that align with adult learners who are furthering their education.

Information about registration for the April 11th Celebration of Literacy luncheon at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is available on Wisconsin Literacy's Events Page. The deadline for registration is April 7th.