Boyah J. Farah, the author of “America Made Me a Black Man,” and former Bedford resident, will be holding a conversation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 4 in the Bedford High School Library (second floor of BHS). The event is free and open to the public.
Farah’s book, published in late 2022, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author in February.
When Farah was an adolescent, his father died and civil war broke out in his home country of Somalia. Farah, his mother, and his siblings fled the country. The journey through places such as a squalid, disease-infested refugee camp in Kenya, eventually landed the 15-year-old and his family in the United States, “Ready to undertake what destiny has in store” for him. His family’s first stop was right here in Bedford.
With some support from the International Rescue Committee, the family of 10 lived in a top-floor three-bedroom apartment in Bedford. Despite crowded quarters and donated possessions, Farah reflected that with his arrival to America, “All that was inside me expanded.”
Bedford left the teen marveling over a land where dogs lived indoors, lawns were mysteriously manicured (and since he never witnessed the care, he initially thought it was angels landscaping at night), and a new language to learn.
Farah walked and biked to the library often. An elementary school teacher lined up dental visits. His heart skipped a beat with his first snow. His name was printed in “The Bedford Minuteman” Honor Roll. His optimism for America and democracy sang in his heart, and music such as Tupac’s “Hail Mary” rang in his ears.
But underneath, the teen started experiencing prejudice and discrimination because of his skin color. From Bedford, Farah moved throughout the Boston area to finish high school and for nearly two decades after that before returning to Somalia. The path of the refugee in the Greater Boston area through his late teens and twenties takes up a good deal of his book, showing tests of strength, resilience, frustration, humility, prejudice, police brutality, and discrimination.
Farah writes about the hard truths of injustices and discrimination with courageous and sincere honesty. He speaks of storytelling and poetry as an integral attribute of the Somalian language and culture, and Farah composed his memoir lyrically with that background coming through.
The conversation on May 4 will center around Farah’s childhood in Somalia, favorite memories of Bedford, and his experiences with racism in the U.S. It will include time for a Q&A and a book signing. Books are available to pre-order for $10 through the Parents Diversity Council.
Kelly Korenak, president of the Parents Diversity Council, says, “We are looking forward to Boyah’s homecoming – he is excited to see changes at Bedford High – and to learn from his experiences and engage in conversation about how Bedford can continue to grow as a welcoming and inclusive community.”
To RSVP for the talk on May 4 or to request a copy of the book use the Google form: form.