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“Good Days” by SZA played through a speaker on the cement of the picnic shelter at Larimer Park as Evanston Fight for Black Lives collected books for incarcerated folks at their “Tie-Dye and Book Drive” event on Sunday afternoon, June 20.
Members Julia Shoaf, Nia Williams, and Lauren Davis led the event at Larimer Park, where organizers set up areas for donors to tie-dye shirts, read the latest issues of Womanly Magazine, and listen to a mix of R&B and pop music while they waited for Evanstonians to drop off more than 300 books.
The books will be donated to a co-ed facility at the Cook County jail in Chicago. From general donations to their open-collective fund, EFBL was able to purchase 53 books from the Semicolon Bookstore on topics ranging from Spanish to social justice.
“People who are incarcerated are not often thought of when it comes to current events,” she said when describing the need for books. “It is difficult to adjust when they get out of prison, and we are sending them things they need or will need. There is an abundance of knowledge out there, and people who are incarcerated do not deserve to be left out of it.”
While EFBL has been busy with weekly block parties, fundraisers and marches, Williams feels that the Evanston community must continue to engage in the fight for Black Lives locally. “People need to stay involved; it can’t be on us to keep everyone involved in the struggle,” she said.
Davis agreed, emphasizing that much of the organization is run by 17- to 25-year-olds in the community who donate their time to EFBL.
“We [the members] are doing this on our off days. EFBL has done an immense amount for the Evanston community, especially in times where the community should be reciprocating the energy,” she said.
Lily Aaron, a rising senior at Evanston Township High School, joined EFBL three weeks ago and was at the event to show her support. She joined EFBL because she wanted to continue to fight for social justice issues at the local level.
“I am a white, heterosexual cisgender woman, and I don’t experience what my BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] peers do in Evanston,” she said. “Whether it be the presence of SROs (student resource officers) in our schools or redlining in the Fifth Ward – it is overwhelmingly apparent that stuff must be done here.”
Evanston resident Brooklyn Fowler has actively followed EFBL on social media and supports the movement. Fowler decided to donate books from their wife’s social work practice after going through her office and realizing that many of her books could benefit incarcerated individuals.
“EFBL is super important,” they said. “I know there are really small steps Evanston is taking for reparations, but the fact that some movement is happening here is great. Any way that we can help from our end as a community, we will.”
Donors were able to purchase and tie-dye EFBL T-shirts at the event, with all proceeds going to Brave Space Alliance in Chicago. One lucky donor also won an EFBL sweatshirt in the raffle.