Evanston Public Library remembers Martin Luther King Jr. through literature


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Reverend Eddie P. Reeves recites Martin Luther King Jr.s “I Have a Dream” speech. Evanston residents gathered at the Evanston Public Library for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration

Maddy Daum, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Public Library remained open on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to give families an opportunity to remember the civil rights leader through literature.

Over 50 Evanston residents gathered at EPL for a series of events celebrating King’s legacy. The celebrations included a book giveaway, an MLK-themed reading and a rendition of the “I Have a Dream” speech. Attendees also had the opportunity to watch films centered around the civil rights movement, such as “Martin’s Big Words” and “March On!”

EPL director Karen Danczak Lyons said it’s important for the library’s resources to be open to the public today to honor MLK’s legacy.

“(It’s important) to provide access to books and programs … so that we can celebrate and appreciate his work, legacy and sacrifice,” Lyons said. “(I hope) the legacy and his work continue through being together as a community.”

This was the first year the library has partnered with Young, Black and Lit, an organization that provides free books containing positive representations of black children to children in Evanston and Chicago, Lyons said. The organization gave away 150 books at the event that share messages that align with King’s.

Krenice Roseman, the co-founder of Young, Black and Lit, said she is happy with how many residents received books. She said her organization aims to create a society where everyone feels “accepted and embraced.”

Many parents who attended offered to connect the organization to District 65 schools to continue spreading the distribution of these books.

“Our organization is really about making sure positive messages of black children are not only given to black children to help their self-esteem, but also the community at large,” Roseman said. “The perception of black children is not always a positive one, so we think that literacy is a way for us to kind of change that narrative about black children for the community.”

Brian Wilson, EPL’s children’s librarian, read books on Monday that illustrated the organization’s message of acceptance and celebration of black heritage. All the books were Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners, showcasing authors who portray black characters in a positive light.

After the book readings, Eddie Reeves, reverend at the First Church of God in Evanston, asked children in attendance what they dream of. He said he hoped MLK’s message will motivate them to pursue anything they want.

Reeves said it is a privilege for him to be able to share his oral interpretation of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve done that speech, and every time, it arouses a feeling inside of me,” Reeves said. “I remember when I was a kid, and I first saw Dr. King do that speech on national television, I cried like a baby. I hope that somewhere within you, you felt his presence in the room and it motivates you to keep the dream alive.”

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