2 Southside Women Seek to Broaden Minds by Increasing Availability of Black-Focused Books – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) – As we continue to spotlight black history and history makers this month, here’s the story of two south side mothers who are expanding minds through black-focused books in this ever-changing technology-driven world.

They spoke to CBS 2’s Steven Graves.

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Growing up in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood – Iesha Malone, could only dream of a slew of black-centric books in one place. But now she’s helped develop one.

“Black history, we need them to know,” Malone said. “I don’t want what I’ve been through to be the same story my kids told 15 years from now – ‘We didn’t have that, and we didn’t have that.’ Yes you can.”

The teacher and mother of two calls Roseland a “desert of books”.

“There is no bookstore,” Malone said. “Library books don’t touch your soul.”

So she flips the script – recently starting a company called the Pink Coffee. For now, she is doing pop-up sites in markets and schools.

It’s all about knowledge and access.

“I think black stories are black stories,” Malone said. “Books can open up a whole new world. And there’s a lot of information in the books.

Verlean Singletary owns Da Book Joint in Bronzeville. It’s a new and small, but powerful book corner with big goals.

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She, along with Malone, hopes to transform the South Side through the books.

“To make sure kids have something more productive and positive to do, give them something they relate to and they’ll read,” Singletary said.

Their work is vital – because black representation has always been weak. A recent national study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center shows that 49.8% of children’s books published last year were about white characters. Compare that to only 16% black characters.

And book authors were predominantly white — 77.9% — while only 9.3% were black.

“Without access to literacy, we don’t know much,” Malone said. “We don’t know where we come from. We don’t know where we can go.

Malone and his business partner, Rebecca Silverman, eventually hope to go straight into the Roseland community with a brick-and-mortar cafe and bookstore.

“I think it’s really important that we all read books about a wide range of people, to understand each other better,” Silverman said.

And such understanding leads to change, one book at a time.

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“People always want to feed your soul with black stories,” Malone said.

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