Dozens of Harlem residents held their favorite books high on Saturday as they marched from 135th St. and Fifth Ave. up to Malcolm X Blvd. to kick off the annual Harlem Book Fair. It was the 14th installment of the event, but the march was a first.
“There is a desperate need for community members in Harlem to come together to improve literacy learning opportunities in our community,” said Joe Rogers Jr., the founder and leader of Total Equity Now, a community group that helped organize the event in conjunction with Community Boards 9, 10 and 11.
Rogers Jr. said he tried to promote literacy in Harlem several years back by carrying a book around with him, but he realized it would take more than just one person to deliver the meassage.
On Saturday he created the first-ever Literacy March Across Harlem, in which dozens of residents gathered and donated more than 250 books to the Harlem Book Fair. He said there are hundreds more still being donated.
“We’re bringing people together from East to West Harlem to play a role in improving learning opportunities for all ages,” Rogers said.
Most of the books were given to the Harlem YMCA Literacy Zone.
Thalia Kwok, the Harlem YMCA Literacy Zone program coordinator, said the event would “reignite a passion for reading and demonstrate the importance of a lifelong pursuit of learning.”
Max Rodriguez, the creator of the Harlem Book Fair, said that his company, QBR/The Black Book Review, organized and funded the event, which costs about $80,000.
“It’s a celebration of black literature,” said Rakia Clark, a Harlem resident and freelance book editor as she browsed the booths of authors, publishers and artists at the book fair.
“I love it,” said Hanna McDaniel, 58, a Harlem resident who walked down Malcolm X Blvd. with a friend.
“It’s not just books, but artists, too,” added McDaniel, who described herself as an artist. “And black authors that are not usually known.”
- The First Annual “Literacy Across Harlem” March (harlemworldmag.com)
- Harlem Book Fair 2012 at the Schomburg (harlemworldmag.com)
- Literacy Teachers Initiative Project: Presentations At Columbia (harlemworldmag.com)