Kristen Berthiaume set up a tiny library outside her house in Homewood, Ala., and stocked it with anti-racist books shortly after a police officer murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Berthiaume, a clinical psychologist, wanted to help educate people in her majority White suburb of Birmingham on the dangers of racism and why it is hurtful not only to the people being oppressed but to the entire society.
“You have to be proactively doing something to fight injustice,” she said.
Since it opened in July 2020, more than 300 books have been picked up, including “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson and “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Many have been read and brought back.
Berthiaume, 43, bought the first books both new and used. Then, as word spread, a few hundred donated books came in, along with about $1,000 in cash gifts she used to buy more books.
“There are a lot more people out there doing good things than doing bad things,” Berthiaume said. “There’s so much support for this project.”
Berthiaume came up with the idea to make an Anti-Racist Little Library independently, she said, but plenty of other people around the country have had the same idea. The Read in Color program has brought diversity-themed books to Little Free Libraries around the country starting last year, including in cities such as Tulsa and in the District of Columbia.
In the San Francisco Bay area, a group of friends, Jenny Roy and Meg Honey and Sarah Foster, started a nonprofit called Rise Up Against Racism, which brings Little Free Antiracist Libraries to neighborhoods in the region. The organization — which launched on June 18, 2020, the eve of Juneteenth — has a team of volunteer artists who build and paint the libraries, and then the organization supplies the books.