A new fund to provide materials and programs related to race, equity, and justice at the Long Beach Public Library has been created by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, in collaboration with the African American Heritage Society of Long Beach (AAHS-LB) and local clergy members, according to a June 24 press release by the Library Foundation.
Funds will be used to expand the Library’s African American Resource Collection by purchasing new materials, such as books, eBooks and audiobooks that focus on the narratives and histories of African Americans, as well as anti-Black racism, white privilege, white supremacy, mass incarceration and other forms of institutional racism.
“The African American Heritage Society of Long Beach is proud to partner with the Long Beach Public Library Foundation to launch the fund for race, equity, and justice resources at the Library,” Nicole Ballard, President of AAHS-LB said. “Since 1619, people of African descent have endured devastating physiological, psychological, and socio-economic trauma from systemic racism and oppression in all of its forms. I believe that public acknowledgment of these critical issues, combined with resources and community support, will yield positive, meaningful changes. Therefore, we remain dedicated to preserving and expanding public awareness of the rich history and culture of Africans and African Americans through literacy and community programming.”
Reverend Teter Dodge and Reverend Hyman conceived the idea of providing broad public access to anti-racist literature and resources, and then reached out to the Library Foundation to help create the fund.
“White Christianity has actively contributed to racist structures and policies, both in the past and the present. As a historically white congregation, we want to take responsibility for our role in this and work to dismantle white supremacy,” Reverend Hyman said. “We believe that education and activism go hand in hand, so making materials widely accessible to the Long Beach community through the LBPL is an important part of the process.”
Donations to the fund are tax deductible and can be made online or through check or money order to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation at 200 W. Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802. Donors should specify that their donation is for the African American Resource Center (AARC) or the Fund for Race, Equity, and Justice. Those who donate are also encouraged to suggest anti-racist books that they would like to be added to the library’s collection.
“To become anti-racist, we must enact and support broad and deep systemic change, and that kind of change begins from within us. It begins—within our nation—within our states, cities, workplaces, communities, neighborhoods, home and families. But, most of all, this change begins within our own individual hearts,” Reverend Teter Dodge said. “We must take the steps to open our hearts to our own perpetuating systemic and individual racism and white privilege as well as hear from and listen deeply to the narratives of our African American communities.”