BOOK CLUB AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH
To promote dignity amongst young black men through reading and exposure to avenues outside of sports and music.
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Alice Harte Library
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
Alice Harte Library
Told by Yolanda Gladden herself, cowritten by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli and with illustrations by Keisha Morris, When the Schools Shut Down is a true account of the unconstitutional effort by white lawmakers of this small Virginia town to circumvent racial justice by denying an entire generation of children an education.
Alice Harte Library
Growing up in 1940s Queens, Jerry Lawson was always a tinkerer, moving from handcars to radio receivers by age thirteen and then televisions at sixteen. His parents actively supported his interests, even searching out schools where racism would not limit a Black boy’s chances at a good education.
A little about us
We are a family of five. Therese' (myself), My husband Justin and our three boys Jordan, Dylan, and Aiden. We had been living in England up until May of 2018. Being in Europe really made our three boys more receptive to newer experiences. Even better than that, it made them more conscious of their blackness (In a good way). Growing up in a predominantly black city such as New Orleans, it’s easy to take genuinely black experiences for granted. Being outside of the south, and more so, out of America, having genuine exposure to the diaspora, really made the boys yearn for a re-connection with their people. They all coped in different ways. Dylan’s outlet was reading. So summer 2018 arrives and Dylan informs us that he plans to read 85 books before summers end. (Really?) I convinced him to reel it back some. Partly for selfish reasons as I knew I couldn’t bear sitting through that many books. So eventually we agreed on 60 books with a gift at 20 book intervals. Incremental increases were established: 20 books=small gift, 40 books=medium gift and 60 books=large gift. All gifts of his choosing once the milestones were met. He kept reading and we kept buying. (Books and gifts) He completed his 60th book around the beginning of August. What made this experience unique however, was that it presented us the opportunity to seek out more and more books with black authors and black protagonists, all the while sharing on social media the gems we were finding in these black books. This may come as a surprise to some of you readers, but people of African descent were represented in a very positive light in the assigned curriculum in the English School System. I mention this because we received his summer required reading for the school he’d be attending upon our return to the states. It floored us. You would think in a predominantly black city and in an almost all black school we would see ourselves represented and If so, represented well. Hardly the case! He was assigned books about white female babysitters (you know the one) and another that was being assigned since I was his age. Ridiculous! And when black males lose interest in school over time, everyone is looking around confused. Here is why. Black people and black males in particular need representation and someone they can relate and aspire to. We had been reading, posting, and reviewing great books all summer at this point, so we said “Why not us?” Let’s step up and fill the void left by our school systems. Our boys deserve it and so much more.
View our guest blog post for peachtree online here!