BLACK CAUCUS OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, INC. RESPONDS TO DESTRUCTION OF MICHAEL BROWN, Jr. MEMORIAL TREE

For Immediate Release:

BLACK CAUCUS OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, INC. RESPONDS TO DESTRUCTION OF MICHAEL BROWN, Jr. MEMORIAL TREE

Media Contact:

April 21, 2015

Jason Alston: [email protected]

Ferguson, Mo. – The leadership of The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) is outraged and saddened, but not defeated, following the immediate destruction of the Michael Brown, Jr. Memorial Tree site at January-Wabash Park in Ferguson.

On Saturday, April 18, 2015, the City of Ferguson and BCALA held a formal dedication ceremony for the memorial site, which included a tree and a dedication stone that was labeled “In memory of Michael Brown, Jr.” The site honors the memory of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown’s shooting catalyzed a national movement aimed at holding police accountable for their use of force – including deadly force – against citizens, especially African Americans and other minorities.

By Sunday morning, April 19, 2015, the dedication stone had been stolen and the tree cut down in half. Police are currently investigating but have no suspects.

BCALA president Kelvin Watson said, “Many things have been destroyed in Ferguson, but we saw the tree as a symbol of peace, comfort, hope, and renewal. Unfortunately someone decided the death of the tree and further theft and destruction was the answer, but our response is that the work of social justice and peace cannot be deterred.” BCALA will continue to strive to be positive and to facilitate growth within our communities. In addition to replacing the tree and dedication stone, our leadership is exploring how to create some partnerships within the community regarding literacy initiatives.

Watson reaffirmed that BCALA will go forward with plans to hold its biennial conference in St. Louis this August, and said this act confirmed the need to include the greater St. Louis community and everyone interested in community building in our conference programming, which BCALA intends to do.

BCALA is a nonprofit organization for different areas of librarianship, including school, public, academic, and special, with national and international membership. It also provides game-changing leadership for the recruitment and development of African-American education and information professionals. It is one of seven American Library Association ethnic affiliates and advocates for promoting and improving library services to diverse populations and communities of color. In addition, BCALA has sponsored a Literary Awards for African American authors since 1994 and is also a sponsor of the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Award.

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Find more information about BCALA at www.bcala.org