Jacksonville barbershop hosts Unbanned Book Club, gives students access to titles not allowed in school
Non-profit 904WARD recently installed a Little Free Library inside Cutz-Linez & Trimz on the city’s Northside.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Schools are starting a new chapter this school year as the district makes books under review available to students.
The district found itself in the national spotlight when videos of empty library shelves circulated as officials raced to comply with state laws banning certain content.
One Jacksonville business is committed to providing students with access to books that aren’t allowed in the classroom.
Diamond Wallace is the Vice President of Jewels of the Future Inc., an all-girls mentoring group in Jacksonville.
Her parents own the barbershop Cutz-Linez & Trimz, where the nonprofit 904WARD just installed a Little Free Library.
Wallace has branded it the Unbanned Book Club – the first of its kind in Jacksonville.
“Our big thing is always making sure they get as much information as possible,” Wallace said, “whether it comes from reading on their own or reading in their libraries, and this is being banned in their schools.”
As of July, Duval County Schools’ media specialists have approved 162,000 books for use. Nineteen didn’t make the cut including “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, but students can find it at the barbershop’s library.
Owners Renita and Cedrick Turner said it feels like black students are under attack and need all the support they can get from the community.
“I think it’s very important for kids, Black children especially, to be able to get their hands on things that are accurate as far as their history is concerned,” Renita said. “Not something that’s been sugarcoated to make a certain group feel better about themselves.”
“My biggest thing was I wanted to know why these particular books were specifically pulled from the libraries in the schools and where African American children can have access to the history,” Cedrick said. “Why would these particular books be taken away from our children?”
Wallace said the kids she mentors are motivated to read the titles.
“Initiating things like this and joining the challenge of the Unbanned Book Club, it really gave them fire to want to be able to read because they’re basically told that they can’t,” Wallace said. “When you give them that fire, you give them that encouragement.”
Anyone can stop in the barbershop and pick up a book. If you’re interested in having a little free library at your business, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jewels of the Future Inc. is having their 6th annual back to school drive. Donations can be dropped off at the barbershop located at 6050 Moncrief Rd. Ste. 10. Supplies like pens, pencils and paper are in need.
They’ll give away backpacks with supplies from 2-4 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the barbershop.