Loni Matthew is a 22-year-old budding author from Hayward, California, and one of the creators who accepted to collaborate on the Virtual Yolo Juneteenth Celebration. I had a chance to speak with her months before the event and, along with everyone in attendance, quickly became fascinated by her journey both as a Black woman in STEM and as someone who deeply cares for our youth’s wellness and success. At the time of the writing of this post, she is currently in pursuit of her Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology. Different forms of writing, such as narratives and poetry have always appealed to her from a young age. This intrigue grew into a skill that was developed and sharpened over the years. Expressing her artistry in the form of articles and poems, she enters the world of publishing with bright eyes and an open mind.
A testimony to her entrepreneurial spirit, her first book publication, Through the Fire: Embracing Setbacks, details the stages and outcomes of growing pains when faced with personal adversity. Her ultimate goal for this book is to touch the minds and hearts of those facing hardship, or to simply be used for introspection. As a student of life, she is constantly learning from both successors and students alike.
Last Saturday I had much fun participating in the first Global Families Festival of 2020 organized by the International House in Davis, CA, in partnership with the always inspiring Teacher Can from the Peregrine School, the Homeless Refuge Support and Advocacy Inc., and the kids dance group Afro Mini Vibes. This is a bi-monthly themed event catering to 3–10 years old and their family, filled with music, craft activities, a story time and food. Kids and parents alike love it! I read the Coretta Scott King award-winning book Trombone Shorty, written by Grammy award-winning artist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and illustrated by the also award-winning Bryan Collier. What a pair! I brought a trombone (had help!), and had the audience gleefully answer the “Where y’at!” greeting calls sprinkled throughout the story.
We all had fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!
A Black History Month Art Exhibit in the Making
The closer we get to the event, the more excited and joyful I am at the prospect of sharing a glimpse into the stories of so many Black geniuses. As a reminder to readers learning about this Black History Month project for the first time, it is a kid-friendly event that celebrates lesser known brilliant Black minds and bodies who changed the course of history. The exhibit would not have been possible without the early support of Scott Love, our Library Regional Manager of the West Yolo Region. Scott offered the space at the Mary L. Stephens branch in Davis, and shared about the project with the Arthur F. Turner location in West Sacramento as well. What does this means?
1 exhibit, 2 locations!
When will the exhibit take place? It will start on the 1st of February and last the entire month.
What About the Art?
The exhibit will feature portraits of selected but world-wide Voices of the African diaspora, past and present, along with non-traditional haikus inspired by their work, famous quotes, short biographies, and a map showing where each historical figure is from (so kids and adults get to learn a little bit of geography). Next to each portrait, there will be an invitation to check out the available library materials on the that person’s life or slice of history. The book recommendations will be for both kids, and adults.
Some of the Highlights of the Week:
1- We launched a GoFundMe page on Monday, to help cover the costs of printing the posters and the information cards. The fundraising is off to a soft start but is gaining steam! Everything collected will be used toward this cause and nothing else, as it will only make the event better.
2- Four amazing artists since joined the exhibit and will share their work with the audience (there will be both prints and original pieces). The fundraising page will be updated regularly throughout the week, as I add the contributors’ biography and finalize, with the help of an amazing librarian friend, further public announcements. I can already share the participation of the truly fantastic Robert Liu-Trujillo, creator of multicultural and bilingual books for kids and founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective and Come Bien Books, among other activities.
3- The exhibit opened the doors for three different art workshops, woven with a bit of storytelling, to take place during the month of February. It is my hope to help further highlight Black creators. The details are being finalized.
Stay tuned for more exciting news next week! Don’t hesitate to help us spread the word. Thank you for reading, I wish you a fun and productive week. Peace!
PS: Tiny Pioneer. Tiny refers to the Tiny Fellowship, a program that supports projects that aim to improve the education system.