By Dr. E. Faye Williams
(Trice Edney Wire) – I have a lot of books in my home. They range from children’s books to Bibles, to right-wing writers, to Progressive writers, to comic writers to biographies. I read as many of them as I can. I have too many to think I could ever read everything in all of them. When people, including children, come to my home, their eyes are wide open with excitement as they walk around my shelves. I never ask them which of the books they found exciting, sad, happy, or just curious.
I must admit, that I have not yet read half of them, but I aspire to do so. Today, I walked down an entire wall of my books that I had hardly had time to notice since I placed them on the shelves. My eye fell on one book called We Charge Genocide edited by William L. Patterson with a preface by Ossie Davis. I opened the book and the prologue by Jarvis Tyner read BLACK LIVES MATTER.
As I read further, the statement made was “Black Lives Matter” is the rallying cry heard all across the country. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets protesting police misconduct and murder. Nationally African Americans are disproportionally victims of police misconduct and murder.”. “Black Lives Matter” is a call to bring an end to this nationwide racist policy of systemic singling-out of African Americans for the use of deadly force by police. The “Black Lives Matter” movement descends politically and is a continuation of the 1951 petition, “We Charge Genocide.”
Those who participated in putting this book together researched, circulated, and signed the petition. They said things that were well-documented evidence and showed that well-documented evidence proved that racism in the US was not simply individual acts by racists but by a system of oppression. They showed that racism, terror, beatings, lynching, and discrimination were systemic. This was mainly expressed within the U.S., but ultimately proof of racism was taken to an international arena.
As I read on, I thought about Ronald DeSantis and Greg Abbott and their efforts to block the reading of things about this country they don’t like and should just be buried. As I was thinking about that, I ran across an article about an Arkansas librarian who was recently fired for upholding her First Amendment right to provide truths. As sad as it is for a country that proclaims the right to own a firearm under all circumstances, the right to enjoy free speech, freedom of religion, the press, to assemble, to petition. This librarian said, “I would rather be fired for upholding the First Amendment instead of sued for violating it.” She was fired for refusing to enforce book bans. Her name is Patty Hector.
To me, Ms. Hector is a shero for standing up as she proclaimed that honoring the book ban would effectively erase people of color and marginalize LGBTQ people, and she refused to do that!
The book I mentioned I’m currently reading would be banned in that Arkansas town. If I were a child, would that stop me from reading my book or would I find a way to read it anyway? As responsible adults, don’t allow anyone to prevent our children from reading books some ignorant, insecure person wants to prevent them from reading. We must show them our children will have an opportunity to read books–even if we have to buy them and put them on our bookshelves at home!
Let’s purchase them for our children, enroll them in after-school programs that teach them the truths they have a right to know, and not allow them to grow up believing a sterilized version of history that pleases narrow-minded, insecure people who can’t handle the truth.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of The Dick Gregory Society.)