Lead Story West Edition

Library hosts Black Lives Matter co-founder Cullors

ECHO PARK — Amidst the hustle and bustle at Echo Park Lake, some park-goers gathered beneath the trees to hear Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors speak about healing and inner peace Aug. 24.

Two pillars of the Echo Park community — the Edendale Branch Library and the lake — united for a spirited neighborhood gathering. Amir Kelly, the “self-crowned Blindian,” sang live with drummers Nadia White and Sawyer Ikeda as Cullors read a passage from her book: “When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.”

“We are living in a time where our families, our loved ones are under attack,” Cullors said. “But we can protect each other. We can be present for each other.

“This government continues to ask us to renegotiate our healing and we are going to say no. We’re going to stand up. We’re going to take care of ourselves and the people around us because that’s why we are here. That’s our purpose as human beings to take care of each other,” she added.

In response to her reading, Cullors asked attendees to journal their feelings in that moment. She encouraged people to express themselves as they saw necessary — whether it was through writing a poem, drawing or closing their eyes.

“I just wanted to be in her space and feel her energy and it was way more powerful than I imagined it would be,” Monica Higgins, 30, said. “I almost shed tears and it was really enjoyable, and it was really great.”

Like most, Higgins became familiar with Cullors’ through her work with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Her work means a ton to me. I mean just the BLM movement in general means a lot to me and just the parallels that I draw between the Black Panther movement and the BLM movement and the way that people are reacting to both of them.

“I feel that I’ve kind of thrown myself into the history and now we’re seeing it happen again now, and I would feel remiss if I didn’t engage in that in some way, especially as a white female,” Higgins said.

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series announced in June its new lineup of programs called Branching Out. The summer series is dedicated to celebrating the lively and diverse communities in Los Angeles.

“These new Branching Out programs are very new and experimental for us,” Library Foundation Membership Director Sarah Charleton said.

This is the first year the Library Foundation of Los Angeles is presenting this program to the public. Programing began in July.

Throughout the summer the Library Foundation has hosted programing at parks adjacent to four Los Angeles Library branches across the city. The fifth and final Branching Out summer series event will take place at Lake View Terrace.

“This interactive thing today was really moving and important,” Director of Public Programs Jessica Strand said. “It did what I was hoping from the beginning, which is really getting neighborhoods involved and bringing them out into the parks and realizing we’ve got libraries and community places where we can all gather and where there is a sense of peace and democracy.”