International Literacy Day is an annual worldwide event acknowledged on September 8th that highlights the importance of literacy as a human right.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which founded International Literacy Day in 1967, there are approximately 771 million people around the world who are illiterate. Additionally, a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics found that 23 percent of Black adults were considered to have low levels of English literacy — a problem that can be traced back to Jim Crow laws and connected to the school-to-prison pipeline.
“Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces” is this year’s theme for International Literacy Day, which will be “an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable and inclusive education for all.” Through local mutual aid projects and community-oriented initiatives, Black people have been shifting literacy education for decades by increasing access to books and literary resources, hosting free book discussions and workshops, and actively encouraging folks to read as a form of empowerment, joy and liberation.
In honor of this year’s theme and annual event, here are five Black folks to know who are transforming literacy learning spaces online and in their local communities.
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