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Oak Cliff's Whose Books to feature immigrant author journeys for World Refugee Day

 Bahar Momeni (left) photographed by Parham Asgari, Jenny Bhatt (right) photographed by Praveen Ahuja.
Bahar Momeni (left) photographed by Parham Asgari, Jenny Bhatt (right) photographed by Praveen Ahuja.

Thousands of people fleeing their home countries due to persecution, violence and abuse have started their lives over in the Lone Star State, often equipped with little more than the stories and skills from their previous lives abroad. The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas is one organization that aims to help these refugees by providing free legal and social services.

Each year, HRI hosts an event on World Refugee Day in an effort to “elevate the humanity” of refugees and immigrants who often get reduced to the most difficult moments in their lives. This year’s fundraiser is at Whose Books in Oak Cliff. Titled “Books and Brews,” the ticketed event cost $25 and will feature a panel conversation with local immigrant authors about their work and literary journeys.

“There is more to their humanity and more to their lives,” said Maryam Baig, special events director for HRI. “It’s our hope that as we spotlight the talents and treasures they bring with themselves to our country, people will be able to put a face to data points, political rhetoric and immigration systems.”

Baig said HRI chose to collaborate with Whose Books because of the family-owned bookstore’s mission to address access to literature in Oak Cliff. Founder Claudia Vega will moderate a conversation between Bahar Momeni, an author, poet and translator from Iran, and Jenny Bhatt, a writer, translator and book critic from India.

Live music at the event will be performed by Ehsan Zargar, a Iranian musician who plays the setar. Refreshments will be provided by Central Market, a community partner of HRI.

Details: Books and Brews will be held at Whose Books in Oak Cliff on June 20 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are available online for $25.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

Michelle Aslam is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow and recent graduate from North Texas. While in college, she won state-wide student journalism awards for her investigation into campus sexual assault proceedings and her reporting on racial justice demonstrations. Aslam previously interned for the North Texas NPR Member station KERA, and also had the opportunity to write for the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer.