The My Brother’s Keeper Nashville Alliance (MBK Nashville) has kicked off its inaugural ‘I Read, I Lead’ literacy campaign to benefit Black and Brown boys in Nashville. The campaign will collect and distribute 10,000 books through December, and 20,000 books over the next year.
The campaign launched June 18 at the Black on Buchanan Juneteenth celebration, and was produced by The Equity Alliance. The campaign was also featured during the Nashville Soccer Club’s Juneteenth Celebration during its game on June 19. The club is partnering with Major League Soccer to host an auction of the special commemorative Juneteenth team-signed jerseys with proceeds benefiting MBK Nashville.
In partnership with United Way of Middle Tennessee, the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success, the Nashville Public Library, Book’em, The Urban League of Middle Tennessee, the Black Book Project and other community partners, ‘I Read, I Lead’ will collect and distribute 20,000 books to Black and Brown boys and their families.
“Reading is an active exercise in freedom of mind, body and spirit for our Black and Brown boys,” said Ashford Hughes, Sr. who serves as co-chairman of MBK Nashville. “Our campaign imagery showcases a boy of color dressed as a superhero standing on a stack of books with his head held high. There is no greater superpower for our young boys to possess than the power of being literate. Our goal is to make sure more Black and Brown boys fall in love with reading and learning.”
The goal of this citywide campaign is to address the literacy crisis in Nashville with an intentional effort to dismantle reading apathy for boys of color. Black and Brown boys suffer from the lowest literacy rates when compared to their peers nationwide.
In addition to the book collection and distribution, the campaign will also provide mentors who will provide additional support to the boys. The campaign will also engage families in ways that humanize the data, stressing the importance of literacy using plain language and easy-to-understand terms—and connects families to additional resources. It will also engage the wider community so everyone understands what’s at stake for Black and Brown boys and is inspired to join the campaign. Underpinning the campaign is the intention to offer culturally relevant texts that are both instructive and inspiring to the youth who’ll ultimately read them.
“We are excited about the chance to engage with Black and Brown boys and their families to help cultivate more readers who’ll become the leaders in our communities,” said Lonnell Matthews, who serves as co-chairman of MBK Nashville. “We want to change the literacy narrative around these young men so that they know reading is fun and relevant and a pathway to a successful life.”
There are multiple ways community members can participate in ‘I Read, I Lead.’ They include:
- Support the campaign by helping it acquire 20k books. The goal is to raise 10,000 books between June 19-Dec. 15, 2022 and another 10,000 between Jan. 2-June 1, 2023.
- Commit your business, non profit, fraternity, sorority or church to host a book drive with the campaign books list.
- Donate to the campaign. As it acquires books, it will have community literacy fairs that are fun and engaging for families and the community.
- Commit to being summer readers with the MBK Nashville Fatherhood Friday and Saturday morning reading events.
- Sign up your child to participate in the Nashville Public Library summer reading incentive program on behalf of MBK.
- Share the campaign book list and ask your network of family, colleagues and friends to contribute or purchase books.
- Commit to the fall semester your church, company or civic organization to adopt a school or a classroom in elementary to serve as reading buddies on behalf of MBK.
- Save the date: Thursday, August 25, for the MBK Literacy TownHall meeting.
To learn more and get connected to the campaign visit <mbknashville.com>.