The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District kicked off its Youth Summer Reading Program this week by bringing together young people for in-person and virtual book reading led by HABD President / CEO David A. Northern, Sr.
The first book in the series was by author Ben Clement titled “Timmy Took a Knee”. Clement was a special guest and joined the book by virtually reading. In his children’s book, Clement presents a peaceful protest march through the eyes of a young black girl named Tanisha and a white boy named Timmy, who valiantly kneels on his knees. Through the book, ClÃ©ment tries to give a literary helping hand to help children better understand the Black Lives Matter movement and the social problems that led to it.
Clement said it is always an honor to share his work with young people and that the main goal for him is to provide a platform for discussion and exploration of ongoing issues.
âThese are very difficult questions to address when you talk about systemic racism, police brutality, fanaticism and discrimination. These are difficult topics for anyone to discuss, especially black people who are most affected by these issues. So I mainly hope to provide this platform and, more importantly, enable young people to take advantage of this platform and start their own discussions on solutions to these problems, âhe said.
Several children joined in reading the book with HABD’s community engagement staff. The young people were very attentive, moved and inspired by his message as they read. The children all agreed that the author left them motivated and that they gained meaningful insight into the continuing struggle for social change and equal justice.
âI think it’s a good book to read and it encourages teens and the elderly to stand up no matter how right people think you are,â said JC, who lives at North Birmingham Homes. âStand up for what is right! Also, it teaches us how we can all come together and agree and disagree without violence. This book also lets you know that history is very important and that it is important to learn and know your history; and you can talk about how you feel about different things that have happened historically.
Tavorus “TJ” Pouncy, 12, who lives in Elyton Village, said: “The book said you must always speak your truth and do what is right no matter what. It is important to speak up and stand up for it. that you know to be righteous, because good or bad will always follow you.
Tyler Cunningham, who lives in Tom Brown Village, said: âThe book was inspirational. It inspired me to stand up for more things and I’m generally someone who is shy and hides in a crowd. This book and this author have encouraged me to be a leader.
Northern said he enjoyed reading Clement’s book to HABD’s youth very much and was familiar with the author’s work. As an executive in his previous job with the Housing Authority of Champaign County, Illinois, Northern read Clement’s book “You miss a Spot!” to young people and said he was happy to present ClÃ©ment’s work to another young audience.
Northern said that “Timmy took a knee” may include content that is difficult for children to digest because it includes sensitive topics, “but I think there is a need for them to be socially aware of the issues they are having. ability to change through their voices and peaceful actions.
âThere is a valuable lesson for young people to learn from the movement that unfolded in the wake of the deaths of too many unarmed black men and women in America,â Northern continued. âFrom the responses of the young people after reading the book, they really got the right message. I hope this book will be an inspiration for their future involvement and commitment to social change.
Here’s a summary of the book: After the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, Black Lives Matter has become the civil rights movement of our lives. But despite noble intentions, many Americans see nothing but angry riots and destruction, instead of civil disobedience and a courageous struggle for racial equality and justice. Tanisha is young, talented and decidedly black. Although she only met Timmy briefly at a Black Lives Matter rally, she recounts how Timmy got there and, more importantly, how that white kid knelt in front of a legion of anti-police officers. riot to inspire a movement for civil rights.