New Black Author Book Boxes are aiming to bring more representation to schools around Greater Victoria.
To mark Back History Month, the African Art & Cultural Community Contributor Society (AACCCS), a Victoria-based community group focused on promoting Black culture in B.C., curated travelling libraries filled with books written by and about Black people.
Pulchérie Mboussi, AACCCS executive director, said this stems from a needs assessment the society conducted a few years ago.
The assessment highlighted a lack of representation in the education system.
“We know a school is a system. For things to change it’s going to take a while,” Mboussi said. “Instead of waiting for the system to be changed, we are giving an opportunity for kids to explore and start navigating Black History.”
Each box contains multiple copies of four different books, a roadmap for the box and prizes for students who read the books.
The prizes are buttons featuring prominent Black figures in history like former Victoria city councillor, Mifflin Gibbs, the first Black person elected to public office in B.C., and Martin Luther King Jr.
Mboussi said the goal is to get these images and lesson into young classrooms, to expose the community to the history and the culture.
“We are talking about anti-racism, anti-black racism and we know it’s at a young age that we have to start,” she explained. “Adults, we cannot change them, but if kids start navigating diversity from a young age it’s going to be helpful.”
This is something local author Fatoumata Bouaré is also working towards.
Bouaré’s picture book, Princess Jamila and the Kingdom of Dreams, is featured in the book boxes.
She said there is a big gap in representation in books at stores, in schools and libraries, adding her dream is to create a world where her daughter could see herself in media.
The why Bouaré decided to write her own children’s book.
“So that she can grow up to have that representation out there, build herself up from an early age, see herself in books,” she said.
Bouaré added that hearing about the Black Author Book Boxes really “marked” her and she found it very impactful.
“It may look small, but it’s a big, big, big, big step towards what’s to come,” said Bouaré.
The AACCCS told CHEK News even though this is the first year, the boxes have been very popular.
Mboussi said five school districts have already requested a box and a wait list has started.
Adding the Black Author Book Boxes program will extend past Black History month and continue throughout the rest of the year.
This is just one of a number of Black History Month initiatives the AACCCS has planned.
The society is also holding a Black in B.C. Symposium, Issamba Symposium and Family Day Camp.
More information on the events can be found on the AACCCS’s website.