By Janice K. Neal-Vincent,
Community Library Mississippi, a nonprofit public charity, operates from the grassroots level to increase literacy and love for reading for the underserved, especially African-American children.
In doing so, the organization aims to form community libraries for intellectual and cultural learning which will be controlled by local residents such as parents and grandparents.
“I learned about Community Libraries from the American Library Association in 2016,” said Meredith Coleman McGee, Community Library Mississippi founder and president.
McGee explained that the coronavirus pandemic forced Community Library Mississippi out of its free space in the Jackson Medical Mall. Irrespective of this setback, the organization launched Community Library Mississippi Goes Virtual in July. Children and adults read books live for three weeks on Zoom.
“In September we obtained a mini-grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council to support Community Library Mississippi Goes Virtual. We facilitated a speaking series on a variety of topics [that featured nine professionals from Jackson, Madison and Greenville, Mississippi; Oxnard and Grenada, California].” The series attracted audiences on Zoom, Facebook and YouTube.
The Jackson Book Festival and the Delta Book Festival joined forces for the Virtual Holiday Book Festival. This was the largest event. Held Saturday, November 28, it attracted more than 2,300 viewers via Zoom and Facebook.
The Delta Book Festival hosted a Spelling Bee. First place winners were awarded trophies. Second and third place winners were awarded medallions.
First grade winners: 1st place – Harrynoel Chia (Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic Elementary School, Jackson); 2nd place winner – Robert Lee Williams III. Third grade winners: 1st place – Peyton Jones (Smilow Collegiate Charter School, Jackson); 2nd place – D’zaria Butler, and 3rd place – Ty’Leann Hines (G. N. Smith Elementary School, Jackson). Combined 4th/5th/6th grade winners: 1st place – Shivaani Thamizhmani (4th grade); 2nd place – Charis Ngong (5th grade, Jackson); and Daniel Knot (6th grade, Jackson).
The Jackson Book Festival hosted a poetry contest which produced emerging poets and writers. First and second place winners were awarded trophies. Third place winers were awarded medallions. Winners: Elementary – 1st place – Shivaani Thamizhmani; 2nd place – Chelsea Smith (5th grade, Boyd Elementary School, Jackson); 3rd place – Harrynoel Chia (3rd grade, Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic Elementary School, Jackson) and Clifton King, Irvin, TX.
“Chelsea Smith, Mikayla Smith, Ty’Leann Hines, Hannah King and Harrynoel Chia presented their first written poems in the contest,” McGee stated proudly. “Eight contestants were from Miss. (2 Greenville, 1 Leland, 5 Jackson). The others were from Irvin, TX and Santa Clara, CA,” she added.
Middle School winners were: 1st place – Clarence Ngong, (8th grade, Jackson); and Hannah King, Irvin, TX – 2nd place.
High School-Adult winners were: 1st place – Marcus Lewis (adult, Greenville); 2nd place – Mikayla Smith (9th grade, Murrah HS, Jackson); 3rd place – Malesha Smith (adult, Jackson).
Three families entered the poetry competition and won Talented Family Team: Smith Family; Zoe Davis Family; Thamizhmani Family.
The Learning Tree Book Club is the oldest running program which meets virtually the first Saturday of each month from 2 to 3:30 p.m. “[It’s] great, motivational, and a successful eye opener for students. My daughter, Ty’Leann, started this wonderful program at the age of 5. She’s 9 now and an Honor Roll student at G.N. Smith Elementary School. Thanks to Mrs. Meredith McGee and her amazing educators who help with the program, my daughter’s reading level expanded, as well as her confidence when she reads,” stated Tykeisha Hines.
From September to December, Learning Tree Book Club readers from Oxnard and Grenada, California; Belize, Central America and Mississippi read books and engaged in questions and answers virtually on four different occasions.
Recently, Richard and Deborah Hulse of Oxnard, California donated 21 books to Community Library Mississippi. “The collection includes books on Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall and Gwendolyn Brooks. These books will introduce young book club members to these three historic greats,” McGee declared.
Community Library Mississippi invites families to join the Learning Tree Book Club. Authors, writers and poets are invited to join the Book Toasters.
McGee noted that beginning in February 2021, Book Toasters will organize virtual book tours. Virtual reading fairs, the speaking series and intellectual contest will resume next year.
Community Library Mississippi seeks support from the community.
To support the Intellectual Revolution, call Meredith Coleman McGee at 601 454-3855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are welcome. https://meredithetc.com/community-library-ms/via the webpage.