Community leaders in Cocoa kicked off an initiative to buy a thousand books for a thousand Brevard County students as part of the “Little Black Book Drive”
FLORIDA TODAY criminal justice reporter J.D. Gallop and his wife Rolanda Gallop are among the key organizers behind the initiative, along with Lynda Hudson, Sonya Mallard and CJ Harris.
According to Gallop, the drive is aimed introducing kids to black history and books with a focus on STEM and space travel, as well as works of fiction by African American authors. The overall goal is to increase literacy and give children books they can own.
The idea is to collect 1,000 titles by the end of April and get them into the hands of 1,000 Brevard County kids by the weekend of Juneteenth. Organizers will be handing out books to all children who want one at Juneteenth events in Cocoa and Melbourne. Books will be available to children from all backgrounds with a focus on children from minority communities.
Cocoa Mayor Mike Blake was among the first donors in attendance at the Essence of Knowledge bookstore on King Street in Cocoa Thursday afternoon.
“There is no saturation point for education. That’s first and foremost. When you invest in education, it’s a win-win for everyone,” Blake, a retired teacher, said.
Anyone wishing to support the drive can purchase books through Essence of Knowledge as well as by accessing a public wish list on Amazon.com created by the Evans Center, Inc., a non-profit community organization based in Palm Bay. New and gently used books are accepted.
“There’s children who grow up now on electronics, but they’re not growing up reading. They play these games and everything, but they don’t know their history,” Michelle R. Davis, owner of Essence of Knowledge, said.
“How are you going to be able to not repeat the past? We have to elevate our children with knowledge. We have to as our duty and our legacy,” Davis added.
The effort came about when a group of professionals wanted to place books on Black historical figures and events in the homes of Brevard County kids and decided to organize the Little Black Book Drive.
Support for the initiative comes from the Space Coast Black Chamber of Commerce, the Evans Center, Inc., Ebony News Today, and the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc, in Mims.
Lynda Hudson, one of the organizers behind the drive said efforts like this are extremely important for increasing childhood literacy and setting kids up to do well in life.
“Our thing is one book, one child. This is incredibly important. Reading is near and dear to my heart. My mother was an educator so we always had books in the home,” she said.
Other children have not grown up with those same resources, she said. “It’s our obligation to help these kids.”
Those who wish to support the drive can make donations via Cashapp to $NateCash23 or on their Amazon wish list, which can be found through the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/475375257587772/.
Donors may also call Rolanda Hatcher-Gallop at 321-298-9097 or drop off books at the Harry T, & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Center and Museum in Mims, Florida .