The Library’s commitment to hearing and supporting Black Americans is based on its values of being welcoming, curious, accessible, kind, collaborative, and resilient. Standing for Black Lives Matter is not a political issue. Black Lives Matter is the human rights issue of our time and we must engage in the uncomfortable conversations that it will take to ensure that everything we do in our work and in our personal lives reflects our undying commitment to our Black colleagues and customers. It is not possible for us to support the Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities if we do not commit to Black Lives Matter. We cannot stand against the racism that Asian Pacific Americans continue to experience with COVID-19 without affirming that Black Lives Matter.
We know that our Black colleagues and neighbors are in pain. Let us be very clear: it is not the responsibility of our Black colleagues to teach us how to support them. As a country, we must reflect upon our own biases, conscious and unconscious, and have the humility to consider how we can better show up in every moment to stand up for what is fundamentally right. We know that allies are struggling to know what to do in order to show support that is meaningful and not just an act of performative allyship. Our Library has not been perfect in this fight, nor will we ever be. In this moment and the future, we must reflect upon how we show up in our work to ensure that justice for Black Americans is protected as a human right.
As a country, we cannot ignore or stand idly by while our Black neighbors and colleagues are targeted and oppressed. We must stand proud and support Black Americans as defenders of intellectual freedom and human rights. We reaffirm our commitment to learning from our mistakes. We are responsible for serving and embracing the diverse community of Prince George’s County, and this work starts by naming the atrocities that have befallen members of our own community and our fellow citizens like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and (tragically) countless others. We will say their names now and forever, because if we do not we risk jeopardizing the fundamental reason for our existence as purveyors of equal access to information, the opportunity to discover oneself, and the pursuit of happiness and the American Dream.
Today would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. It is an unspeakable tragedy that her life was snuffed out by those sworn to protect her. We cannot remain silent and negligent. We must do everything in our power to facilitate the understanding and discourse that will be necessary in order to affect long-term change when it comes to anti-racism.
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System vehemently denounces racism and violence against Black Americans. Anti-racism is a human rights issue that must guide all of our work if we expect to affect positive change as a community. On Tuesday, the Library will convene an open discussion (for staff) on how all of us can more effectively combat violence against Black Americans in our daily work. Renée Battle-Brooks and Kyla Hanington of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission have generously offered to facilitate this opportunity for PGCMLS staff to come together, listen to each other, and advance our long-standing work to combat racist and violent behavior directed at our Black neighbors. This discussion is just one step on the long road that is ahead for combating racism.
Those of us who are allies have an especially important role in becoming educated in the history of oppression against Black Americans. We must hold each other accountable so that our actions to advance anti-racism are not short-lived. We cannot just jump on the bandwagon of this moment on social media. We have a duty to ensure that our work reflects the Library’s commitment to Black Lives Matter, whether in programs, social services, or online resources.
We must not become complacent. We must not allow this to be a moment of performative allyship. We must stand firm in our commitment to doing everything within our power to ensure that the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System is self-critical, supportive of our Black colleagues, and that we anticipate the ways in which we can better serve Black Americans in the days, months, and years to come.
Roberta Phillips, Chief Executive Officer
Michael Gannon, COO for Support Services
Michelle Hamiel, COO for Public Services
Nicholas A. Brown, COO for Communication and Outreach
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) stands against all forms of racism and hatred. Recent tragedies and ongoing systemic racism must be confronted by all of us. We must listen to the voices of those who are targets of bigotry and engage in individual and collective learning together. Prince Georgians demonstrate on a daily basis how the diversity of our community is its strength. The Library is committed to creating physical and virtual environments that are welcoming to all. PGCMLS will always encourage constructive discourse in support of advancing social equity through programs, the availability of collections and resources for all ages, and opportunities to gather as a community. We are Prince George’s Proud to serve and live in a community that works together to seek a better future.
Public libraries across the country have the responsibility to advance social equity. PGCMLS stands united with the Urban Libraries Council and American Library Association in condemning racist incidents and behavior that targets individuals and communities.
The Read Woke Challenge is a national initiative to encourage reading, personal growth, and social justice. Prince Georgians of all ages are encouraged to read (or listen to) at least 5 books between October 6 and Dec 15, 2020 that explore diversity, inclusion, equity, anti-racism, and the many perspectives of the human experience.
The creator of #ReadWoke, Cecily Lewis (School Library Journal 2020 School Librarian of the Year), states:
“Read Woke is a movement. It is a feeling. It is a style. It is a form of education. It is a call to action; it is our right as lifelong learners. It means arming yourself with knowledge in order to better protect your rights. Knowledge is power and no one can take it away. It means learning about others so that you can treat people with the respect and dignity that they deserve no matter their religion, race, creed, or color.
A Woke Book must: • Challenge a social norm • Give voice to the voiceless • Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised • Seek to challenge the status quo • Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group”
Participants who log five titles through December 15, 2020 will be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card raffle. Register today and spread word about Read Woke!
About Read Woke
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System celebrates and honors the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We pride ourselves in creating and maintaining a safe environment that respects and is inclusive of diverse traditions, religions, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientation, genders, ages, heritages, abilities and experiences. The resources, services, and programs offered by the Library aim to be racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
PGCMLS is one of 161 libraries that have committed to the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Racial and Social Equity. In a strong act of commitment to a more equitable society, these public libraries across North America have established a baseline upon which libraries can build policies and actions that make their communities more inclusive and just. Learn more here.
As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:
Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.
The American Library Association (ALA) provides resources for libraries and communities to advance social equity in their communities. PGCMLS stands with ALA in condemning all racism and hatred. Learn more here.
More than 30 years after the infamous “Bloody Sunday” march, Congressman John Lewis returned to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and talked with "Sunday Morning" correspondent Rita Braver about that and other landmarks of the civil rights movement. Braver also talked with writer David Halberstam about Lewis’ legacy. (Originally broadcast on June 28, 1998.)
Rep. John Lewis and co-author Andrew Aydin discuss "March: Book Three" at the 2016 Library of Congress Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis recalls what it was like to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 in front of 250,000 people to deliver a speech that would make history.For more on #masterclass, visit http://bit.ly/1ZQfeZO
President Obama recently joined Congressman John Lewis, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson, writer and survivor of police brutality Leon Ford, Jr., and youth leader LeQuan Muhammad, in an intergenerational panel moderated by activist and author Darnell Moore, to discuss the mental toll racism takes on people of color. You can find mental health resources for dealing with racial stress and trauma at Obama.org/anguish-and-action
Rep. John Lewis's casket was taken across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on Sunday.
Lewis was beaten and tear--gassed as he and other peaceful civil rights protesters marched across the same bridge on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965. He dedicated his life to the nonviolent fight for equality and justice.
Congressional lawmakers attend a memorial service as the casket of Representative John Lewis (D-GA) arrives at the U.S. Capitol. Following the service, the casket will move outside the East Front stairs to lie-in-state. https://cs.pn/39y0Ayq
Efforts to be truly anti-racist sometimes require us to step outside of our own experiences. Join us as we use Ta-Nehisi Coates's book Between the World and Me as a point of reference in discussing what it means to confront racist sentiment while being Black in America.
To commemorate Juneteenth, the holiday marking the end of slavery, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden chats with current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds and former National Ambassador Jacqueline Woodson about ways to hear and support kids during a period of nationwide protest against injustice.
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, co-authors of "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" (Little, Brown) opened School Library Journal's virtual Day of Dialog, May 27, 2020.
PBS KIDS for Parents hosted this important conversation — featuring fellow parents, educators and child development and trauma experts — about how you can talk with young children about racial injustice and violence against Black people. Explore questions such as: How can parents of Black children continue to instill confidence and pride in young kids while also explaining the racial inequity and barriers that continue today? And, how can parents of non-Black children help young kids understand their role in confronting anti-Black racism? Hear questions from fellow parents and learn tips and resources you can use to continue to have these meaningful conversations now and into the future.
I made this video for the kindergarten students at my school. I realize this might be a helpful video for non Black children to also watch. In the video I discuss what racism is and how it’s impacted the lives of Black and Brown people. I also read aloud the story Let’s Talk about Race. Finally, I encourage young people to think about what actions they can take to use their voice to speak out against injustices.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes questions along with CNN's Van Jones and Erica Hill about how to combat racism, and shares a message with kids about how to make a change.Source: CNN
Sesame Street's Abby Kadaby shares a story of how her fellow Sesame Street friend Big Bird was a victim of prejudice, and how she stood up for him. A college professor defines white privilege.Source: CNN
Two children from a heartwarming viral video catch up with each other over video. Former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey shares a message to children of color.Source: CNN
Michelle Hamiel of PGCMLS and Kyla Hanington of the Prince George's County Human Relations Commission discuss "Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD.
New York Times bestselling author and Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. discusses his new book, "Begin Again: James Baldwin's American and its Urgent Lessons for Our Now."
PGCMLS CEO Roberta Phillips hosts a weekly community conversation with local leaders to discuss resources and services. This week's guest is Katina Rojas Joy, Latino Liaison, Office of the County Executive.
When You Learn the Alphabet allots space for large moments of tenderness and empathy for all black bodies—but especially all black woman bodies—space for the underrepresented humanity and uncared for pain of black girls, and space to have the opportunity to be listened to in order to evolve past it.
The Authors for Truth series provides Prince George’s County residents with opportunities to meet and hear from national authors whose works address social justice issues and promote equality.
John Lewis’ March series is temporarily available for unlimited free access through ComicsPlus. Access with your PGCMLS library card or PGCPS LINK card number.