CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. - A Black history-themed public book ark project is popping up around Camden County.
"Autobiographies," said Erik James Montgomery describing a book inside a book ark he created and stocked.
"Some of these are faith-based books and some of these are art books," he said. It’s part of an existing program to place books housed in these ark-structures in neighborhoods around Camden County.
"I've seen them all around the city. The kids love it and the parents love it so I knew I wanted to be a part of it," said Montgomery. But this one is different than the other 45 to 50 arks created over the past two years. This has a black history theme.
"There's a lot of autobiographies there, there's books by Maya Angelou, there's the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. There’s also books that talk about psychology, and there's books that talk about anti-racism," said Montgomery. The outside he created with pictures of books mostly featuring African Americans or written by black authors.
"I wanted to put in books instead of people’s faces and then just have Camden is reading because reading is very important. Literacy is very important to me and I wanted other students and young people to be able to be attracted to the images. And then once they see the images they'll open up the ark to get the books," he said.
Montgomery is a professional photographer and CEO of the EJM Foundation which creates public art and hosts art programs for young people. Tom Martin the man who started the Book Ark Project commissioned him to create this one. Martin says there's only one other ark, the Liberation Ark filled exclusively with books for or about people of color located between Westfield and North 27th Street. He hopes this one too will be widely used and by people of all races.
"I think when people of color see this and see faces on the front that look more like there's then maybe all the others, they'll be more tempted if they aren't book minded to reach in there and say what's this all about. So to me it's incredibly exciting," said Martin.
The Black History-themed book ark will be available beyond black history month. You can see it outside the Camden Fireworks Art Gallery 1813 Broadway in Camden. To find out which neighborhood it will go from there you can check the Book Ark Project on Facebook. The idea is for people to take books, even restock it with books of their choice for others.
Also, the books used are mostly donated. If you’d like to donate books email firstname.lastname@example.org
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