The boxes and bags of books quickly piled up on top of and around a new Little Free Library during its unveiling Friday afternoon in west Montgomery. With about two dozen community members and elected officials present, Jeremy Kelly pulled a book from within.
“The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. DuBois, he said, changed his life in high school.
Assigned for a project, Kelly remembers his reluctance in picking up the book, assuming it’d be a boring read. Much to his surprise though, “It deeply, deeply moved me when he started explaining the concept of the talented 10,” he said.
The top 10% of intellectually-gifted Black people have a responsibility to reach back and help bring the other 90% up, DuBois wrote.
“I felt I I was given my marching order from Mr. Dubois himself from the grave,” Kelly said. “What started out as a punishment really radically touched me.”
He delivered on that marching order with the little library, the goal of which, he said, is simple: to light a candle for the youth in the community and maybe change a life through a book like DuBois did for him. He views it as a holistic approach toward building up the next generation. The books on financial literacy and computer coding will develop talents, while others will help inspire children who are going through tough times.
On Juneteeth, “the day of our true liberation,” Kelly, owner of Kelly Realty, said the library was his and his company’s “opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation.”
The unveiling began with a prayer by the Rev. Courtney Meadows, who asked that mighty work be done through the library. In an impoverished community that is under-resourced, this library, located in front of the Fairview Farmer’s Market, is the second to be erected in west Montgomery.
“I think it’s great that we have another one on the west side. We need it,” Kevin King said. He said he sees people use the first, located on Westcott Street, almost every day.
Charles Lee, owner of nonprofit That’s My Dog, came to the unveiling to provide copies of his memoir: “Boy With No Name,” which details the challenges he endured being exposed to drugs and gun violence at a young age, and how he changed his life around after being released from prison.
While little libraries are generally built in neighborhoods rather than in a retail district, the placement of the little library was intentional. The Farmer’s Market is a popular attraction in the community that provides physical nourishment, Kelly said, and he wanted to partner with them to provide nearby mental nourishment, too.
Kelly’s goal is to continue placing little libraries in underserved neighborhoods throughout Montgomery, with he and his staff currently trying to select a location on the north side of town.
Present at the unveiling, County Commissioner Elton Dean said he’d love to support that goal financially.
“I believe that one book has the power to completely change the trajectory of your life,” he said in a news release. “Exposure to new ideas has the ability to radically transform your paradigm. We’re excited to be placing such a life changing resource on Fairview and we’re hoping that it becomes a staple of the community.”
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Krista Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.