Friday, October 11, 2013

Cook Library Scholars: Literature, Community, and History Intersect!

On September 16th, 31 students from the Grandville Avenue neighborhood joined the inaugural class of Cook Library Scholars. This brand new project of GAAH, sponsored by grants from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Steelcase Foundation, provides academic support, leadership education, and diverse enrichment opportunities to students in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood.  Thursday marked the end of our fourth week together! This week, our Scholars learned more about an exciting leadership opportunity through the CLS program.

In partnership with Grand Valley State University’s Kutsche Office of Local History, our Scholars will begin a multimedia project of documenting their neighborhood’s history. As part of this project, the students had the privilege of meeting José Jiménez on Thursday. In the late 1960s, Jiménez founded a Latino rights group in Chicago called the Young Lords. He told our students about why and how his group decided to advocate for the rights of Latinos in the United States. The Scholars were particularly interested in the Young Lords’ practice of cleaning up graffiti. One of our Scholars, Maynor, made a point of thanking José for his visit.

The Scholars have begun to read Sonia Manzano’s The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, a young adult historical fiction novel that depicts a young woman’s perception of the Young Lords movement in Spanish Harlem, New York City. On top of meeting José, the founder of that movement, our students will meet the book’s author on Tuesday, October 15. Ms. Manzano is most recognized for her role as Maria on the wildly popular children’s show Sesame Street. She will come to read to our kids and to discuss the importance of education. We are all so excited to meet her and invite you to join us!

We have been so grateful for our community’s participation in this project. Last week, our friend Ruth Tobar, the director of Plaza Comunitaria in Grand Rapids, read a selection from the novel to our kids as we all enjoyed the beautiful weather in Roosevelt Park. The afternoon was a fascinating intersection of literature, community, and history.

We are looking forward to diving deeper into this project with our Scholars. Stay tuned for more Cook Library Scholars updates!

Miriam, Estelita, and Yuri read The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano together.
José Jiménez shares his experiences with Maynor, a Cook Library Scholar.
Ruth Tobar reads to our kids on a sunny day in Roosevelt Park!
Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center.

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