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Nanea Woods

From Oregon Live. Nanea Woods started a locker library as a kid…

She set up shelves inside her locker, filled them with books, posted a signup sheet and opened the whole thing to her schoolmates.

"It got to be so big that I started a newsletter over the summer so girls could keep up with what I was reading," Woods says, recalling that she used pink paper to distribute her book reviews.

...a reading group as an adult...

Its newsletter has more than 400 subscribers and its monthly meetings often have to be capped at three dozen attendees, who connect with one another not only through books but also through complementary activities such as meditation and country line dancing.

...and is now organizing Freadom Festival, Portland’s First Annual Black Book Festival.

For the festival's tagline, Woods chose the phrase "Read by any means necessary," a reference to a 1964 speech by civil rights activist Malcolm X in which he called for achieving freedom, justice and equality "by any means necessary."

From the two featured authors:

Kesha Ajose Fisher:

"I'm so excited," Ajose Fisher says of the festival. "For me, having that freedom to be able to share with the community what Black books and Black storytelling mean right now really was the number one reason why I wanted to be a part of it."

Kim Johnson:

Johnson recalls growing up in Oregon and not reading a book written by a Black author about Black characters until she reached college. The Freadom Festival’s opportunity for Black book lovers of all ages to “celebrate and see themselves in a community, to see stories written by and about Black people, is really meaningful in a community that often doesn’t have an opportunity to celebrate in that way,” she says.

That last quote from Kim Johnson is a wonderful example of representation.

Curiosity. Tenacity. Empathy. Love.

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