‘Color of Water’ author speaks at MCCC

Bestselling author James McBride spoke to a packed house at the Meyer Theater in the La-Z-Boy Center Tuesday night.

“I liked him,” said Lauryn Dempsey, a student at MCCC. “He was really funny.”

She was in attendance because his memoir, “The Color of Water,” is one of her favorite books and also because she received extra credit in one of her classes for attending. She said she now plans on reading another novel written by McBride, titled “Miracle At St. Anna.”

During the engagement, which was part of the One Book, One Community program and lasted about an hour and a half, McBride spoke candidly on a number of topics, including the process of writing his memoir, “The Color of Water.”

“Writing is the act of continual failure,” he said. “You keep going, and eventually something will catch fire.”

McBride also offered sage advice, encouraging students to keep trying and aim high, even when times are tough.

“The problem with students like yourselves, from places like Monroe, isn’t that you’re not smart enough,” he said. “It’s that you don’t think high enough.”

One point McBride wanted to drive home was that if he could be successful, anyone could be.

“When I was in school, I never did anything that would indicate the fantastic success you see before you,” he joked.

“Don’t believe the hype. There’s nothing I’ve done that you can’t do,” he added.

People can be successful no matter where they come from, he believes.

“They ain’t no smarter than you in New York.”

Possibly the biggest point McBride made was that hate and discrimination does not do anyone any good.

“Don’t listen to the hate. It’s going to do nothing but tie you down,” he said. “We’re all just human beings trying to get through another day.”

McBride concluded the speaking by taking several questions from audience members. A book signing was held in the atrium after the event.

“The Color of Water” is available for sale at the MCCC bookstore.