Pisila Smith, left, and local NAACP President Sharrone Blanck, right, share a laugh. Blanck hopes to collect 300 books during this month’s book drive. (Shomik Mukherjee — The Times-Standard)
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The Eureka chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is hosting a month-long book drive in celebration of Black History Month and will be donating the books collected to local schools.

The book drive is part of a month-long program of events which will culminate with the 49th Annual Charles Washington Soul Food Dinner on Feb. 23, said Sharrone Blanck, president of the local NAACP.

“They can be new books or used books that are about black history, black cultures or are written by black authors,” she said. “Our goal was 200 books last year and we raised 250.”

This year, Blanck is hoping to reach a goal of 300 books that will go to schools that have yet to be identified. The drive, Blanck said, is one of many ways the NAACP is working to give residents, “a fuller, richer experience of what it is to be a black person in this county.” The tendency to focus on Martin Luther King Jr. in January, followed by fixating on select black figures in February is more easily dispelled through events like book drives, she said.

“It’s one way to make literature available to people as they’re growing up,” she said. “One of the wonderful things is that you’re going to get authors or specific books you’ve never heard of before, and that’s really exciting.”

Blanck said some other aspects of the programming for this month include an upcoming essay contest (details to be announced) and a free screening of “Black Panther” at the Humboldt County Library on Feb. 27.

Humboldt State University graduate Tina Sampay, also the author of the “Slauson Girl” news blog, said she was thankful for the opportunity to help with the programming with the NAACP. When asked about the inspiration behind organizing a book drive, Sampay thought back to her childhood.

“I remember how powerful reading was for me growing up and how I lost myself within the world of books,” she said. “With Humboldt Count being such a secluded, rural environment, these kids who grow up around there are not getting very much diversity on the views of other cultures as well as interacting on a daily with other cultures, especially the black people.”

Sampay hopes that the world of local children “are broadened through reading about the black experience through the lens of black authors.”

Although Sampay no longer lives in Humboldt County, she said she continues to root for the success of the NAACP’s efforts.

“I hope more youth of Humboldt and black students at HSU continue to be involved with the organization to help the Eureka NAACP be the vehicle of change for the community of Humboldt,” she said.

Sampay’s blog can be found at http://slausongirl.com/.

Book drop off locations:

  • KHSU offices in the Wagner House at HSU
  • The African American Center for Academic Excellence at HSU
  • Humboldt County Office of Education, main entrance, 901 Myrtle Ave., Eureka
  • Arcata Library, front desk, 500 7th St., Arcata
  • Temple Beth El, 3233 T St., Eureka
  • Saunders Grooming Lounge and Supply, 219 Second St., Eureka
  • Any of the NAACP’s Black History Month events

For more information on the book drive or other NAACP events, email contact@eurekanaacp.org.

Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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