[POSTPONED] The Folding Chair: Book Discussions on Leadership and Ambition


Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Online (Zoom)

This event has been postponed. Please check back soon for a new date and details.


Bring your folding chair and join us for inclusive discussions on autobiographies of diverse and courageous individuals who achieved their career ambitions and added more chairs to the table for others.

This program is for Allston-Brighton and Cambridge residents; attendance is limited to 20 people.

This months selection is: I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography
Author: John Thompson, Legendary Georgetown Men's Basketball Coach
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (December 15, 2020)

Moderator: Jim Barrows

This book is accessible at the library. If you need to purchase the book and it is a financial hardship, contact us at edportal@harvard.edu. In your email confirmation, you will be provided 3 questions to consider as you read the book. These questions will be the basis for our discussion.

About the Book:
John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and I Came As A Shadow is categorically not just a basketball autobiography.

After five decades at the center of race and sports in America, Thompson―the iconic NCAA champion, Black activist, and educator―was ready to make the private public at last, and he completed this autobiography shortly before his death in the historically tumultuous summer of 2020. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (three Final Fours, four-time national coach of the year, seven Big East championships, 97 percent graduation rate), Thompson’s book drives us through his childhood under Jim Crow segregation to our current moment of racial reckoning. We experience riding shotgun with Celtics icon Red Auerbach and coaching NBA Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson. What were the origins of the the phrase “Hoya Paranoia”? You’ll see. And parting his veil of secrecy, Thompson brings us into his negotiation with a D.C. drug kingpin in his players’ orbit in the 1980s, as well as behind the scenes of his years on the Nike board.

Thompson’s mother was a teacher who had to clean houses because of racism in the nation's capital. His father could not read or write. Their son grew up to be a man with his own larger-than-life statue in a building that bears his family’s name on a campus once kept afloat by the selling of 272 enslaved Black people. This is a great American story, and John Thompson’s experience sheds light on many of the issues roiling our nation. In these pages, he proves himself to be the elder statesman whose final words college basketball and the country need to hear.

I Came As A Shadow is not a swan song, but a bullhorn blast from one of America’s most prominent sons.

John Thompson was the head basketball coach at Georgetown University from 1972 to 1999, where he won the NCAA championship in 1984. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. He was a graduate of Providence College and held a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia. He completed I Came As a Shadow shortly before his death in the summer of 2020.