On January 20, 2021, at the inauguration of our 46th President Joe Biden, we were mesmerized by the words of Amanda Gorman, from her poem The Hill We Climb: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.” This young African American woman is our first American Youth Poet Laureate.
As we celebrate Black History Month, let us honor countless African American writers and leaders who inspire us with their words. They emphasize the power of literacy and use the power of their own words to teach and motivate us. Frederick Douglass, African American leader, writer and abolitionist advised, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” And South African leader Nelson Mandela’s words remind us still today, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Toni Morrison and Malcolm X both spoke about the power of books. Morrison: “If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Malcolm X: “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life…For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, 1997-2006.
Chatham Literacy is dedicated to helping adults in our community acquire the literacy and educational skills they need to function successfully. Literacy leads us to “the light” and makes it possible for us “to see it”…and “to be it”.
Hope you are staying safe, warm and dry,
Chatham Literacy Executive Director