The members of the Facebook group were recently asked what they would like to see from BLMSWPA, and many felt that education was an area in which a huge impact could be made.
On Sat., July 18, from 2-5 p.m., children in the Pittsburgh area will have the opportunity to advocate for their present and future education during a "Read In" event at Point State Park.
"The Children's Book 'Read In' event was the result of a want to address the lack of diversity in youth reading materials and the disparity in minority literacy rates in comparison to their white peers," says Long. "When organizing activism efforts, many were cautious to bring their children out of fear of unrest and violence. … We want to bring attention to the many ways our current educational system is failing children of color. Instead of a 'sit in' we chose to do a read in and give the children books that feature characters and authors of color across all genres. We want to normalize diversity."
According to The National Assessment of Educational Progress, the average reading score for white eighth-graders was 272 (proficient is around 280) in 2019. The average reading score for their Black counterparts is 244. This 28 point score difference was larger than the 25 point score difference in 2017.
Now, after an overwhelming response to the GoFundMe and raising almost $15,000, Long and her team of volunteers will be able to distribute hundreds of books to any child that shows up.
"This event is open to everyone, with the books being geared to the K-12 age range," says Long. "Our focus is on children from underserved communities, however, if anyone wants a book and can afford it, we suggest a donation but it is not required in any way."
Books will be distributed at Point State Park, a location chosen to ensure social distancing. Sanitizer and masks will be provided to those who are not prepared.
In addition to free books, the day will include adult readers sharing their stories with the children, speakers who touch upon education, and an open forum for those who want to share their experiences with the educational system.