Black History Month is celebrated every February in order to honor contributions from African Americans to United States history. This celebration began in 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher, created it to honor African Americans through history. This celebration was then extended to a month in 1976, chosen in February due to Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. For more facts or information about Black History, you can visit this site by history.com.
One honored, historic figure is Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister and social activist who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the mid-1950s until his death in 1968. His iconic “I have a Dream” speech, delivered in Washington, D.C., continues to impact lives today, including the Rio Grande Valley.
The McAllen Public Library decided to take part in celebrating Black History Month in a number of ways, one of these being an interactive wall in the Teens Department. Leslie Gutierrez, one of two full-time employees for the department, came up with the idea to combine the interactive wall along with the iconic “I have a Dream” speech by allowing not only teens, but anyone from adults to kids, to write their dreams and put up them up on the wall. This innovative display not only educates the public about Black History Month, but it also helps teens and other individuals think about and pursue their dreams by having the support of their community and being able to utilize community spaces, such as the McAllen Public Library.
“Every day, I look up at them. It’s really awesome to see all these dreams up there,” Danica Salazar said, employee in the Teens Department. Both Gutierrez and Salazar are in charge of creating programs for teens in order to spark conversations and educate them via different means of entertainment or even researching and requesting new materials for teens. “They’re the reason why we’re here,” said Gutierrez, as she explained the importance of the Teens Department being a safe place of support for teens.
This is one of their various interactive walls which has been a success, as they’ve managed to break those shells teens come in with which impedes them from speaking to adults or even getting them involved in their community such as TAC (Teen Advisory Committee). TAC (which you can register by form at the McAllen Public Library to be part of) is where teens can get community service through a number of ways by helping out at the library. Such activities can include summer plays, college fairs and other fun, unique experiences.
“This interactive wall is educating teens, from teaching to correct the wrongs from the past to recognizing every race which has contributed to the country. We’re also making the teens think about their future and how to pursue those dreams,” James Carmona, Teen Services Supervisor said.
Various dreams have already been put up on the wall in the library, ranging from wanting to be a Ninja Turtle and equal rights, to becoming an occupational therapist by Gutierrez and even a dream from the director. “My biggest dream is to be happy,” Salazar mentioned, as she wrote hers for the first time during the interview, as she wants to wake up every morning and be happy without worries of any sort which she says she’s close to accomplishing.
The interactive wall will be open to the public during their normal operating hours (found here) through Feb. 28, at the McAllen Public Library. They will also have other programs going on which involve Black History Month from displaying books to screening documentaries. “Stop by and write your dreams!” Gutierrez said.
For more information about this interactive wall or other events about Black History Month taking place at the library, you can visit their site here. You can also follow the McAllen Public Library Teens Department Facebook page to keep up with them here.
“Your dreams are always possible. Never think that a dream is too big or too small. If it’s your dream, you can achieve it,” said Gutierrez.