By Jessica Starks
To celebrate the legacy of Black books and their impact on culture, All Ways Black, Penguin Random House’s community dedicated to Black writers and the readers who love them, dropped a brand-new cypher in February, and you HAVE to see it!
The cypher took place in Milwaukee Public Library, featuring local Milwaukee artists Genesis Renji, Klassik, and Marli Amor, as well as Cree Myles, curator of All Ways Black.
It’s so cool how the organization found a way to connect the importance of reading with the culture, in a way that resonates with youth and adults alike!
A continuation of 2022’s inaugural cypher, the theme of this year’s cypher was legacy – looking back on the foundations built by those who came before, and toward the future at the worlds being created today. The increase in book bans in this country has predominantly impacted books featuring characters of color, and is an erasure not only of these powerful stories, but also the future possibilities that could have been inspired by those works.
To help improve access, All Ways Black is partnering with the Little Free Library nonprofit organization to build Little Free Libraries across the country featuring books by Black authors–many of which have a history of being banned or challenged – located in communities with large Black populations (if you’re interested in receiving a library in your community, click here to apply!). For every share of the cypher on social media, Penguin Random House will donate one book to the initiative.
“Black stories saved my life, and all I’m ever trying to do is pay that forward,” said Cree Myles, Curator, All Ways Black. “My literary awakening started at the library.The Bluest Eye, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Color Purple … the first books that changed my life were all library
checkout. It was so special to go back to the Milwaukee Public Library—where it all began— to film the cypher. Libraries are literally free magic, and we are so excited to partner with Little Free Library to remind everyone of that truth and encourage them to utilize it.”
“It is an honor to be working with Penguin Random House and the All Ways Black community to push back against book bans that are much too common in our country,” said Greig Metzger, Little Free Library Executive Director. “We are especially concerned that these bans negatively impact authors of color. Books are empowering and Little Free Library believes that everyone has a right, no matter where they live, to access a book that can inspire. We are proud to do our part with the All Ways Black community.”
The books featured in each Little Free Library have been selected from foundational works of Black literature, banned and challenged books, as well as newer releases, for children and adults alike. Titles include those such as Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, Goodnight Racism by Ibram X. Kendi, Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, among many others.
All Ways Black also hosted its second annual All Ways Black Awards on Instagram on March 3rd, featuring Black authors, content creators and the fans who love them.
To share the cypher, learn more about the awards and join the All Ways Black community, follow @allwaysblack on Instagram.
About All Ways Black: All Ways Black, Penguin Random House’s community dedicated to Black literature, is a year-round celebration of Black writers and the readers who love them. Growing from the Instagram channel that launched in 2021, All Ways Black has expanded to become a multi-channel platform spanning social media, a hub of 200+ rotating book recommendations, a newsletter, and more.
About Little Free Library: Little Free Library® (LFL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries. There are more than 150,000 registered Little Free Library book-sharing boxes worldwide in all 50 states, 115 countries, and seven continents. Through them, over 300 million books have been shared since 2009. LFL received the 2020 World Literacy Award as well as honors from the Library of Congress, National Book Foundation, and others. The organization grants Little Free Libraries full of books to underserved areas through its Impact Library Program and champions diverse books through its Read in Color initiative.
About Penguin Random House: Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, is dedicated to its mission to ignite a universal passion for reading by creating books for everyone. The company, which employs more than 10,000 people globally, was formed on July 1, 2013, by Bertelsmann and Pearson. As of April 1, 2020, Bertelsmann is full owner of the
company. With more than 300 imprints and brands on six continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital English- German- and Spanish-language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide. With over 16,000 new titles, and more than 700 million print, audio and eBooks sold annually, Penguin Random House’s publishing lists include more than 80 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.