Two years in the making: CARE’s Multicultural Library holds its grand opening

Clarion photo Ezra Ereckson
Members of CARE hang out in the new multicultural library.

The Cleveland Alliance for Racial Equity (CARE) leadership class has finished the multicultural library project. Located to the left of the library’s entrance, the nearly two year project held its grand opening on Dec. 15, 2021, with the purpose of educating others about racial equity, anti-racism, and showcasing BIPOC literature, art, and culture.

While this library is small, both in size and catalog, the books in the multicultural library were carefully selected by CARE. The authors in this catalog range from Ibram X Kendi, Mathew Desmond, to graphic novels illustrated by David F. Walker, a writer for film (My Dinner with AJ) and comic books, having worked at Marvel, D.C. and Darkhorse.

Walker actually attended the grand opening, posing for pictures and interacting with students.

“He was not involved in setting up the library, but our collection features several of his graphic novels, so we contacted him over Instagram and invited him to attend the grand opening,” said senior Moxie Thompson, a member of CARE, and Student Body Co-President.

About 20 people, including two adults, put quite a bit of effort into the aesthetic beauty of the small space. With some extra space on the bookshelves, the paintings and pictures help each section stand out a bit more. Quaint bean-bag chairs make the space more comfortable to sit during your reading or browsing.

CARE members say that the biggest objective of the multicultural library is to draw potential readers in. This in turn may have more people become interested in learning about racial equity.

“This section allows students to educate themselves more and to learn and it also allows for this very small community of BIPOC to have a sort of safe space and a learning space as well to see that they are represented in literature instead of reading books without being able to see them in it,” said Mandy Zhan, junior, one of the CARE organizers of the event.
The project began in 2019, prior to the events of COVID under the direction of CARE advisor Lynne Allers. At the time, senior Ari Periche was the one to kickstart the project. Originally, the idea was just to get books for CARE, not create a library space. The thought was that this would give the fledgling class more resources to educate themselves about racism and anti-racism, which could also open up a huge pathway of projects.

While CARE was picking out books to order, the project pivoted to something even bigger.

“It started as a project based on books that we in CARE wanted to read to educate ourselves, and then we were offered funding by the principal at the time, Leo Lawyer, to expand this to a school-wide project and that is when we decided to put a section in the library to curate,” said Thompson.

The curators picked out books carefully, which was time consuming. 2019 soon turned to 2020, and shortly after, COVID-19 quarantined everyone and shut down in-person schools altogether.

Although Periche graduated from Cleveland in 2020, the project picked up momentum in September, 2021 when in person school began again. CARE decided to continue the project and ordered the books. Finally, once the books arrived, they eventually made and finished the library on Dec. 15, after almost two years when the original project started. Through it all, librarian Bryan Smith helped guide the process.

“Once the Multicultural Library was ready to open I felt incredibly proud of the students who worked on it,” said Ezra Ereckson, who took over after Allers departed. “It was really cool for me as the CARE Leadership advisor to be able to oversee a project that started before I was advisor and before most of the current students were even in the class.”

Ereckson pointed out that while the project was technically completed, “A library is something that is never ‘completed.’ It will grow and change and like any collection. It has to be curated and cared for. We plan on adding more books and media to the collection every year,” he said.