In an effort to increase access to books by Black authors in communities across the country, Penguin Random House’s All Ways Black collective announced that it will partner with Little Free Libraries to build a number of free libraries that include a curated selection of Black writers and classic stories. With books centering on Black characters and critical topics often pulled from shelves in book bans and restrictions, the partnership aims to help these stories find a new readership.
“Black stories saved my life, and all I’m ever trying to do is pay that forward,” said Cree Myles, curator of All Ways Black. “My literary awakening started at the library. The Bluest Eye, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Color Purple … the first books that changed my life were all library checkout.”
All Ways Black unveiled a video cypher—filmed at the Milwaukee Public Library, featuring local artists Genesis Renji, Klassik, and Marli Amor— to raise awareness for the initiative and call community members to action who want a little free library in their neighborhood. For every share of the video on social media, Penguin Random House has pledged to donate a book to the initiative.
Myles added, “Libraries are literally free magic, and we are so excited to partner with Little Free Library to remind everyone of that truth and encourage them to utilize it.”
In addition to classic titles such as Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, and works by Toni Morrison, the little free libraries will also include newer releases by Black authors.
“It is an honor to be working with Penguin Random House and the All Ways Black community to push back against book bans that are much too common in our country,” said Greig Metzger, Little Free Library Executive Director. “We are especially concerned that these bans negatively impact authors of color. Books are empowering and Little Free Library believes that everyone has a right, no matter where they live, to access a book that can inspire. We are proud to do our part with the All Ways Black community.”
Focusing on the theme of legacy, "foundations built by those who came before, and toward the future at the worlds being created today," the collective also shared that the initiative will culminate in a celebration event, its second annual All Ways Black Awards, held on Instagram on March 3.
View the All Ways Black cypher above or follow the group on Instagram at @allwaysblack for more updates.