Thursday, January 16, 2020
In order to meet specific needs within our own communities, like minds must decide to unite, pool together resources and be the change they desire to see. A dedicated group of Jacksonians, fed up with the intellectual disparity within predominantly black communities, decided to form The Community Library Initiative with the vision of increasing literacy, formulating safe spaces for early learning, inspiring intellectual interactions and contests and creating more opportunities for younger generations to fall in love with reading.
Once incorporated on March 21, 2019, as a nonprofit corporation, the name changed to Community Library Mississippi. By summer of 2020, Community Library plans to renovate a vacant house in south Jackson into a public library equipped with reading rooms to host future contests as well as classes and book clubs. After becoming established in Jackson, Community Library plans to expand throughout the state of Mississippi, building more accessible libraries where needed. In the meantime, Community Library has jumpstarted seven affiliate programs to tackle the issue of literacy within our youth: Learning Tree Book Club, Book Toasters, My First Book Series, Reading Fairs, Community Speaking Series, Book Toaster's Speaking Series and Local History Speaker's Series.
Instead of waiting for a seat at the table, Community Library Mississippi has continued to forge a path for Jackson creatives and authors by hosting its second annual Jackson Book Festival on Friday, Feb. 7, from noon to 7 p.m. that is free and open to the public. The Festival will take place at the Jackson Medical Mall (350 Woodrow Wilson Blvd.) on the center stage, just in time for Black History Month. Other sponsors include Scents & More, Arts Klassical Inc., Learning Tree Book Club, Book Toasters and the only independently black owned bookstore in the Delta, The Book Gallery. The program includes book talk presentations, a black history forum consisting of four panelists to discuss literacy and economic liberation, poetry competitions for all ages, performance of "A Little of Me, A Little of You by a Spoken Word Choir," a song selection by Reaching One Community at a Time Choir and a closing comedy act by comedienne Ruth White.
Jackson Book Festival Coordinator and Community Library Mississippi Chair Meredith McGee is a Jackson native author, publisher, poet and the niece of civil-rights activist James Meredith. She encourages all book vendors, authors, publishers, aspiring creatives and book-lovers to attend.
"We invite Mississippians and the public to experience this great intellectual display of artistry. We invite book publishers and authors to present and sell their books. We invite emerging and experienced poets to compete in the poetry contest," she said in a press release the library distributed last week.
Multiple authors spanning the state of Mississippi plan to attend, as well as several book vendors from Texas. The sponsors are reaching out to businesses in the Capital City to further support their efforts by donating labeled gift bags to give out to participants as prizes for scheduled raffle drawings during the program.
All attendees are encouraged to register for the Jackson Book Festival and the poetry contest here. All vendors should register here. For more information concerning the Jackson Book Festival and the other affiliate programs, visit here or contact Meredith C. McGee by phone at 601-372-0229 or by email at [email protected].