Bradenton, FL: Kind Cotton, a local clothing company with a mission to redefine kindness, inspire others to do better, and encourage childhood literacy, has expanded its reading program to include a new partner: Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance. Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance is looking to promote reading and build literacy amongst children in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Their initial kickoff will include a December Book Drive (dates to be determined) encompassing 9 different neighborhoods throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties. After the holidays, Black Lives Matter will begin erecting ‘Free Little Libraries’ throughout both counties to further extend access to books for children and adults.
“In every book, the reader hopes to find a piece of themselves, yet, for BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) children that is often not the case. Our children are inundated with images of knights, warriors, heroes, kings, and queens that look nothing like them, while the media constantly portrays negative stereotypes and at best graphic depictions of the worst parts of our history.”
Black Lives Matter Literacy Initiative Leader Jr Lalleman continued, “Through our LIT (literacy) Initiative, we hope to provide the children and adults in Manatee and Sarasota counties with free access to quality books rich in representation. It is our hope that by putting books written by BIPOC authors in the hands of BIPOC children, we can educate, inspire, and elevate the consciousness of the children and adults in these communities to meet the challenges presented to them by the ever enduring weight of racism in America.”
Kind Cotton has now provided over 20,000 books to children across the country, with an emphasis on in-person literacy lessons at Alta Vista Elementary. However, COVID-19 has put an end to their in-person reading program temporarily. “It has become increasingly important to become co-conspirators in the fight against racism in this country. As a white woman, it is important that our company works to dismantle white supremacy and challenge the systems that uphold it” said Kind Cotton co-founder, Kaitlin Johnstone. “As a Kindergarten teacher, I have made it my mission that children have books in my classroom in which my students feel seen, valued, and inspired. It is also crucial for books to be windows into other cultures. Educators must do their part in creating these experiences in the classroom, but many times this is not the case. So, when given the opportunity to partner with Black Lives Matter on their literacy initiative, we were overjoyed!”
The members of this project, literacy initiative leader Jr Lallemand, Black Lives Matter Manasota organizer, Deedra Zee, marketing director Marissa Maulbeck, member Olivia Tooker, and Kind Cotton owner Kaitlin Johnstone are looking forward to providing thousands of books to children/adults throughout Sarasota and Bradenton. Please look to support by either dropping books off or sending donations. More information can be found at:
About Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance: Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance is an organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lives by dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism through community outreach, education, and civic action.
About Kind Cotton: Kind Cotton promotes kindness and encourages childhood literacy in the Sarasota-Bradenton community through clothing & accessories. With every purchase, a book is given to a child in the community. More than just a donation, the company is focused on making a real impact on each child by personally working with them to develop and enhance reading skills.