“The past has been a mint Of blood and sorrow. That must not be True of tomorrow.”
- Langston Hughes
The words of Langston Hughes are fitting as we find ourselves again at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. A juncture that calls for candor not defensiveness, engagement not mere allyship, and action equal to the outrage we feel. Because Black Lives Matter.
The core purpose of the Friends is to support the Oakland Public Library and the broader Oakland community. The members of the Friends board work diligently to that end. The events since the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, have stirred rather than discomfited us, begun conversations, prompted self-examination, and spurred a renewed urgency in our work. We know the power of books and the myriad other resources available through the library to open up new worlds for all in our diverse city. As a board, we have been intentional in our efforts to support historically underserved communities, most notably through our mini-grant program. To that end, we are actively researching an equity index as one way to ensure that our support flows to branches serving those most in need.
We recognize, however, that we must do more. Much more. Most especially and immediately, we seek to make our board reflect the diversity of the community it serves, recruiting more people of color with ideas, perspectives, and connections that will knit us together in this great journey. We will continue the thoughtful work of developing and supporting anti-racist initiatives in Oakland and beyond. We will not collaborate in the silence but rather work expansively for a more just future. Together we can make “hope and history rhyme.”
The Friends of the Oakland Public Library and the Bookmark Bookstore are outraged at the recent and ongoing police killings of Black persons, as well as the violent police response to protesters. We stand with those who fight the white supremacy and systemic racism that perpetuate this terrorism.
We also recommend this OPL post, “Working Toward Racial Justice,” which offers rich lists of reading and resources.
We stand with the Black community.