Charlotte Mecklenburg Library celebrated Community Read the entire month of March 2019 with the hopes of bringing the community together to discuss the issues that are important to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Close to 200 programs and events were scheduled by Library and community partner locations covering many topics including wellness, culture and education, activism, and the arts. The entire community was all in from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to the Levine Museum of the New South and many more.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community welcomed Community Read with great enthusiasm and support. We were pleased by the candor and passion people brought to the discussions and programs. There were diverse perspectives and the Library is hopeful that with this year’s Community Read, Charlotte-Mecklenburg is on the right track to becoming a stronger community. Together.
Open Books. Open Minds.
Community Read brought all races and ages together to initiate dialogues and affect change in the racial, generational and gender divide that exists in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. During the monthly Lunch and Munch book club at Independence Regional Library, readers of all ages reached a better mutual understanding while bridging the racial and generation gap toward a more peaceful and just world.
Tackling the big issues.
Much of the dialogue during Community Read programs centered around the heavily-weighted issues in Charlotte-Mecklenburg such as police involvement and racism. The Library offered programs in collaboration with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. One program focused on “How to Talk About Race,” where attendees gained a deeper understanding of moderating conversations about race.
Another program at the Levine Museum of the New South offered a powerful and moving experience where participants toured the K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace exhibit and held a discussion. The program is a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and in Charlotte, and was co-created with activists and law enforcement, the media, students, clergy and civic leaders.
At Johnson C. Smith University, trial attorney, Civil Rights Activist and community organizer Toussaint C. Romain tackled the topic of racial injustice as he delivered a passionate and honest discussion on The Hate U Give after a viewing of the movie.
Activism and making a difference.
Community Read delivered a message of getting involved and using one’s voice to make a difference in the community. In a College and Career Connections program at Hickory Grove Library, photographer Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. and Councilman Braxton Winston stressed the importance of using the tools at your disposal to affect change.
During Angie Thomas’ appearance on March 19, 2019, she spoke to a crowded theater at Central Piedmont Community College and said, “I did the only thing I knew how to do – I wrote. I shed light on the darkness. I made the political personal.”
At various Library locations, members of the community made a difference by sharing their time with the community they serve. At locations like Scaleybark Library and Independence Regional Library, police officers, firefighters and librarians shared stories, songs and other fun activities while engaging with families in the community.
Then came the authors.
Community Read provided an extra bonus for participants to meet and interact with their favorite Community Read authors. On March 19, Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give presented to a full house with her honest and personable talk. She left the entire auditorium at the Halton Theater at Central Piedmont Community College in awe and inspired to not only find their voice but to use their voice to change the world.
Then at the end of the month, Matt de la Peña, author of Love, mesmerized young Community Read participants with his message of love. He spent the morning of March 28 at Seversville Park for StoryWalk® featuring his picture book, Love. There he shared personal behind the scenes stories about the book and illustration process. During the day he visited several Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Later that evening, de la Peña wowed the audience at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center where he discussed his picture books with educators and families. He shared that for him writing children’s books is his form of activism. “My job is to facilitate the story and leave space for the reader to add their own context to the margins. Once a book is out in the world and in the library, it’s a collaboration between the writer and the reader.”
Community Read 2019 may be over for this year but remember what happened here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg: the discussions, the messages and the coming together of our community. Keep the spirit of Community Read alive all year long in your heart, your household and your overall community. Continue reading and looking for opportunities for open dialogues and being a force in your community.
We’ll see you next year for Community Read 2020.