MLK Week: StoryWalk about Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

The week of January 17 through 23, Baldwin Wallace University and the Berea community partnered to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. anniversary with several events throughout the week. The first event of the week was a StoryWalk taking place at the Berea Branch Cuyahoga County Public Library and Coe Lake. The StoryWalk featured the children’s book, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.  

Children’s librarian at Berea Public Library, Gail Toth, chose the book because it came out a few months ago and Gorman was the poet who spoke at Biden’s inauguration. 

“We thought of this book because not only is it brand new and beautifully illustrated,” Toth said, “but the message in the book really speaks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”  

According to Toth, the book’s message mirrors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. message of working together for a change and that change comes in small ways. 

“In this book, the people just start banding together.” Toth said, “It’s a small group and they start making changes in their community and in themselves.” 

A StoryWalk is a project developed by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier with collaboration with Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library. The StoryWalk project promotes literacy to families in the outdoors where book pages are turned into signs.  

“It’s definitely to encourage families to get moving, get up, get out of the house.” Toth said. 

Cuyahoga Public Library Berea Branch was the first one to start the trend of StoryWalks around Cuyahoga County. They started when COVID forced them to shut their doors to the public. 

“When everything was closed, our branch manager worked to get a StoryWalk up and going,” Toth said, “Just for families to enjoy something… to get out of the house and actually do something fun.”  

Other library branches in Cuyahoga County followed and started doing them too. Toth recommends people to go to the Cuyahoga Public Library website to find the different branches that do StoryWalks.  

Berea Branch library has continuously received good feedback on their StoryWalks from the community. They would like to have a permanent one so it’ll protect the signs a lot better and avoid them becoming muddy and hard to read by the snow. 

The Berea community can enjoy the following programs the Berea Branch library is offering this February. Anyone can go and grab a Valentine’s card kit to decorate Valentine’s cards for the elderly at Senior Generations, which is next door to the library. Decorated cards should be returned on or before February 13. Musicologist Michael Strasser, PhD, from Baldwin Wallace University will perform songs inspired by the Civil Rights Movement on February 28 at 7pm in the Berea Library.  

To program the events for the MLK week it took three months to plan them according to Ericka L. Walker-Smith, Director of Inclusion Programs & Community Development. They started in October of last semester. A committee is formed to analyze and plan the different events that can be essential for the MLK week celebration. 

“Martin Luther King Jr. week is the collaboration between BW folks and folks out in the Berea Community.” Walker-Smith said. 

The committee is formed of 15 selected people that are willing to help plan for the annual celebration. They met every two weeks during those three months.  

Some of the BW people in the committee were President of Student Government, Ryan Bolin; President of BSA (Black Student Association), Ruvimbo Mareya. From Residence Life, Kristin Brewer, Todd Heft, and there were more individuals involved. 

Some people from the Berea community in the committee were the chief of the Fire Department of Berea, Terrell Ledwell and chief of the Berea Police Department, Dan Clark. Other people were from churches around Berea, such as the United Methodist Church and Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  

“I was really proud of what we were able to put together for both the BW and the Berea communities.” Walker-Smith said, “And celebration and acknowledgement of Martin Luther King Jr. and a wonderful legacy that he has left.”