A lot happened last night after the grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. There is no doubt that we, as a nation, have a long way to go.
A long way.
It’s easy to despair right now. It’s easy to be angry. Hurt. Confused. Afraid. Frustrated.
No matter what you believe about the case, those emotions are being felt by people of all walks of life today. I’d like to add another one, though, one that has the power to combat all of the negative.
Even in the midst of an important, divisive moment like this, I am finding small pockets of hope. We all have the power, and the chance to better after this moment, and the best way to do it is by feeding hope with every morsel we can find. An important organization doing that right now is the Ferguson Municipal Public Library.
In a way, this should not be a surprise. For centuries libraries have stepped in as bastions of education and enlightenment, important places that spread knowledge and power through the written word. Today, even with the rise of e-books, libraries still hold a key role in our lives. More people are reading and discovering books through the rise of new technology, and local libraries have a huge place. And the truth is, libraries provide more than just books. Libraries educate. Libraries enlighten. Libraries empower.
And libraries do all of that for free.
During this crisis in Ferguson, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library has not shied away from that mission. Instead, the small library (run by one full-time librarian) has remained steadfast in the commitment to education. It has stayed open. It has become a haven for children. And it has become a smoldering place of hope.
Monday, as the announcement came that the schools in Ferguson would close in response to public outcry over the verdict, the staff at the Ferguson Public Library renewed their efforts. On Facebook and Twitter, they repeatedly told the public they would open, providing a warm, safe, educational place for Ferguson’s children, many of whom have parents who cannot afford last-minute child care.
Moreover, they did this proudly, stressing the importance of this during a time of national crises. It wasn’t long before people took notice, people like author Joelle Charbonneau, who set up an effort she called #HopeThroughStories. Others spread the word through social media, and donated what they could to help the library.
Education is one thing that cannot be taken away from a person. If a person is educated, if they are literate, if they have hope, they can affect change, and that change can ripple. Education is the key to everything. Education makes all of us stronger, and all of us better.
If you want to support a group that is working to create real hope, consider supporting the Ferguson Municipal Library with a monetary donation, or with a donation of books. Books can spread ideas, and ideas become change.