On Thursday evening, August 16, 2018 at the historic James J. Hill Center in St. Paul, my dream of bringing an African American children’s book publishing company to the Twin Cities, will officially come true with the 1st Annual Strive Publishing Gala! I can already see and feel the children’s literary community, along with family and friends, all surrounded and embraced by the shelves upon shelves of books in the James J. Hill Center Library. Moreover, I can envision a day when contemporary children’s books written by and about African Americans are just as abundant in our schools, libraries, and community programs.
With the 2018 Gala, Strive Publishing will be introduced to the Twin Cities, along with the company’s vision to give all children an opportunity to see African American culture from different perspectives, while highlighting our three “Founding Authors”: Ricardo Peters, Linda Miller, and Donna Gingery. Gala attendees will get to meet the authors and learn about their book launch plans. We will also feature local jazz band, Batume & Company; local speakers, Nicole Salaam and Jesse Ross; and local DJ, Erick Goodlow.
The 2018 Gala is also my gift to the Twin Cities – it’s a fun way to provide an opportunity for people to connect with and build relationships with advocates in the critical work of literacy, education, equity, and inclusion. My hopes for the upcoming gala are rooted in community partnerships. I want the work of Strive Publishing - the children’s books and the incredible authors - to inspire a determination in foundations, corporations, and individuals to collaborate with us in getting contemporary books by and about African Americans into the hands of children.
I founded Strive Publishing because of my personal struggles with searching and searching for African American literature. As a child, I loved to read, but never saw anyone in the books that looked like me. I encountered the same problem as a parent, as well as in my fourteen years of teaching elementary school. I want it to be just as easy to access African American children’s books as it is to access any other books. Moreover, I want readers to experience a new narrative in African American stories in particular, and shared stories in general. I believe the world needs to experience the equitable inclusion of all voices - especially in the children's book publishing industry where stories abound, yet there is a stark lack of stories by and about African Americans.
According to a study done by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, out of the 3,700 children's books published in American in 2017, only 340 of them were about African Americans. More than that, out of those 340 books, only 122 of them were written by African Americans. The 2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center study will include three books written by Strive Publishing’s Founding Authors! These authors have more books to publish and to add to the study; and as Strive Publishing grows, there will be more and more children’s books written and illustrated by African Americans to add to the study.
Strive Publishing exists to solve two problems: One is the lack of culturally relevant children's books; and the second is the underrepresentation of African American authors. I feel called and determined to help solve these problems, and I am dedicated to ensuring that this important work moves forward. While giving all children the opportunity to see African American culture from different perspectives, Strive Publishing promotes and creates avenues for local African American authors.
This is a lofty mission with many barriers, and I welcome your help in BREAKING BARRIERS BOOK BY BOOK. I am thankful for our Founding Supporters LIGHTHOUSE MPLS, and MOTION 117 PRODUCTIONS, and for our Founding Partner in Fun CAN CAN WONDERLAND! Their support affirms for me, the value in collaborating with others to reach a common goal. I look forward to getting to know the many advocates in the areas of literacy, education, equity and inclusion at the 1st Annual Strive Publishing Gala!