Category Archives: #BBLM

Benicia Black Lives Matter – Reading to a child

Windows to a New World

Reading to a child. What could be a more magical way of learning for the child and a more gratifying experience to the reader? And what can be a more important way to introduce and connect children to things beyond their immediate world?

Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) has been doing just that with pre-school level children in Benicia and Vallejo since January 2021 in our Preschool Reading Program. Using carefully screened and age appropriate literature, BBLM volunteers have been opening the minds and hearts of our preschoolers.

Once a month, volunteers go into different preschools to share a book and related activities carefully selected by the team to bring awareness of Black history, science, art, music, customs, culture, and daily lives, with the intent to plant seeds of humanity towards Black people as early as possible. And several of the preschools in this community embrace the opportunity to work with BBLM to bring the children a broader perspective and cultural understanding.

The books used are reviewed and offered by Roselind Johnson, the owner of Ethnic Notions, a gift and bookstore and art gallery located in Vallejo. Ms. Johnson is an expert in Black literature and the arts. At Ethnic Notions, she stocks a wealth of material on Black culture for people of all ages, including for a very young audience.

The books for the preschools are selected upon the seasonal influences within that month, much like the other books traditionally read to young children throughout the year, except that these books are chosen specifically to uplift and amplify historical and contemporary Black life. This helps young children of all races understand and accept that we are all different in some ways and the same in others. And a copy of the monthly book is donated to each participating school.

Some of the books that have been introduced include:

      • Rosa Parks
      • Nana Akua
      • If You Give Me Some Apples
      • MLK
      • Trombone Shorty
      • My First Kwanza
      • Catch a Kiss
      • Brown
      • Baby Botanist
        …and more.

All of the books are connected in some way to the Black community while demonstrating that we are all related. For example, Brown features the reality and acceptance of people of varying skin color, while Baby Botanist is the story of a young Black farmer. The ensuing and related activities and discussion focus on equity, and awareness. After reading Brown, the children decorated a globe with cut out human figures of a variety of shades. After reading Baby Botanist, the children planted green onions and talked about farming. Hand-outs included information on Black-owned farms in the Bay area.

Parisa Kelly, owner of Starlight Montessori, was one of the first to be on board with the Preschool Reading Program. Before the program started, Ms. Kelly had been trying to extend her library of books to include more diversity. When approached by BBLM, Ms. Kelly was happy to participate. “The reader is wonderful. She really reaches the children at their level. Some people find it difficult to speak about complex issues with 3-5 year olds without talking above their level or down to them. The messages are positive, and the activities are meaningful. They put a lot of thought into the preschool reading program, and I am grateful. Plus, BBLM has donated the books they have read to us and helped me to expand my library.”

Ms. Kelly has many anecdotal stories about the children’s responses to the stories. For example, after reading Brown, the children had a lively discussion about comparing the colors of flowers in a garden to the diversity of human skin color. Then they all put their hands together and compared the varying colors. “It was so joyful!”

Stories are mirrors. And the stories read by the BBLM volunteers help our young children better see themselves in relation to the world. The books are a window into a history and culture that may be different from their own. Using this simple way of teaching and connecting, we are helping our children to better navigate the world we live in, honor other cultures, make good social choices, and to become true global citizens.

The BBLM Reading Program is entering its third year and second summer and is going strong. We are reaching a broader community that includes both Benicia and Vallejo. We are not reading to only preschoolers, but older children as well. Literacy in Solano County is of utmost importance to BBLM, and our children’s reading program is just one of many ways BBLM serves our community. If you would like to learn more about BBLM, please visit our website at beniciablacklivesmatter.weebly.com.

Join Benicia Black Lives Matter, Monday, January 17, 1:30pm, MLK Day of Service

Free Educational Virtual Event on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Join Benicia Black Lives Matter for a free virtual event on Monday, January 17, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, to celebrate the national Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service. Established in 1994 to honor Dr. King’s life and contributions to advancing civil rights for Black Americans, this Federal holiday was intended to be a day of not just reflection, but also a day of action and self-education.

BBLM’s free educational Zoom event, which is appropriate for all ages and levels of antiracist work, will feature guest speaker Mark Lampkin and focus on Dr. King’s “Three Evils of Society” speech. In 1967, Dr. King identified these three evils as racism, consumerism/poverty, and militarism/war, and he called for a “radical revolution of values” in pursuit of a more just and equitable future for all. And yet, more than 50 years later in 2022, these three evils Dr. King described are as rooted in our daily lives as—if not more entrenched than—ever.

So what have we learned in the last 50 years, and where do we go from here? How do these three evils affect Solano County and Benicia in particular, and how can we join together to address it? BBLM is a grassroots community organization that was organized to address anti-Black racism by actively committing to building a better Benicia and a better Solano County, one commitment and one change at a time. Join us for this timely discussion and learn more about the historic urgency that calls us to radical change, hope in action, and loving pursuit of improving our shared communities.

ZOOM INFORMATION
Topic: Benicia Black Lives Matter ML King Jr. Day Event
Time: Jan 17, 2022 01:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86881752473?pwd=QUk0dlB6M2tRejJvanBXZ2IyNzA5dz09
OR 
https://bit.ly/bblm-mlk2022
Meeting ID: 868 8175 2473
Passcode: 171213
One tap mobile
+16699009128,,86881752473#,,,,*171213# US (San Jose)

More About Our Special Guest, Mark E. Lampkin
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FwLAAVrIsI7qu5BHtJ758egbmrmp3rLwf8RcPx7AWf8/edit?usp=sharing


MORE:

BBLM websitebeniciablacklivesmatter.com
On Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BeniciaBLM

Here on the Benicia Independent:

ALERT! Benicia Black Lives Matter comments on tonight’s Council agenda

BBLM issues strong critique of the recommendations for nominees to the CURE subcommittee (Committee United for Racial Equity)

Email, BBLM Leadership, November 16, 2021

The Benicia City Council meeting tonight (Tues., Nov. 16, at 6 pm) requires your attention!  >> Please see BBLM Leadership’s statement regarding concerns with the CURE subcommittee nominees (click here to view).

Here is the agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting: https://docs.google.com/gview?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgranicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fbenicia%2Fb68400ce12284b474f83bf91e1f389c60.pdf&embedded=true

Note: We are making a public comment on agenda item 14.B, not a general public comment.

If you plan to make a spoken comment, raise your hand during the item 14 “Appointments” section. You can clarify that you wish to make a public comment on Item 14.B. If you plan to write in with a comment (to be submitted between 6 and 6:15 pm to be read aloud), you can reference Item 14.B in your subject line and in the body of your email. Please be aware that anything you say or write could be entered into the public record.

Some additional details:

    • Emailed written comments received between 2 and 6 pm today will be forwarded to the Council but not entered into public record or posted on the website—so this is probably a time window you should avoid.
    • Emailed written comments received AFTER 6 pm but BEFORE the agenda item’s public comments section is closed (aim for 6:15 as the tail end of your window), will be READ ALOUD at the meeting—this is preferred over the 2 to 6 pm window listed above because it’s more impactful.
      For dial-in instructions, please review the agenda.
    • For emailed comments, you can email Lisa Wolfe at lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us

Thank you!

BBLM