+
upworthy
Education

Alabama community rallies around author after school district cancels Black History Month event

“How many teachers want those students to be able to have that opportunity to see themselves reflected in the people that we bring in?”

Alabama; Black History Month; Derrick Barnes; banned books; cancelled authors

Alabama community rallies behind author after school district cancels his Black History Month event.

There's something special about having a book read to you by the actual author. It means a lot to adults, so one can only imagine how children feel when they find out that the person preparing to read them a story is the person who wrote it. It's a small piece of childhood magic that never really goes away.

That's exactly the treat that several classrooms were primed to get when award-winning children's book author Derrick Barnes was scheduled to read to students at three schools in the Hoover City Schools public school district near Birmingham, Alabama. It's an event that was inquired about back in April 2022, nearly a full year in advance to ensure the author would be available for February. But just days before the start of Black History Month, the superintendent of Hoover City Schools abruptly canceled the scheduled readings.

The cancellation came as a surprise to Barnes, his team, as well as the parents and teachers within Hoover City Schools. The superintendent of the school district, Dee Fowler, cited one parent's concerns about the visits and the author's "controversial ideas." Fowler also stated there were contract issues, according to CNN.


No matter the reason, Barnes would not be reading at the schools, which not only affects the children but also leaves the author out thousands of dollars. But the Alabama community decided they were not going to allow this situation to stand and chose to do something about it any way they could. Hundreds of frustrated parents have worked together to raise a portion of the $9,900 Barnes lost by the event being canceled on such short notice, and they didn't stop there.

People in the town are stocking his book in the Free Little Libraries, which are small bookcases placed throughout towns and free for the public to use. Two teachers, Kent Haines and Reed Lochlamy, wrote a letter to the school district and 140 teachers from Hoover City Schools signed on as of February 3. According to WBRC, the teachers are asking for more transparency about the situation and how to avoid it in the future.

The award-winning author writes children's books that feature Black children doing normal daily activities and encourages positive self-image. These are books that Black children can see representation in and other children can see something other than Black people experiencing trauma or some other situation that needs to be overcome. Most of his writings center joy, and it would've been a joy for kids to see that reflected.

“I really try to focus on writing books where Black children are doing ‘slice of life’ things,” Barnes explained to CBS 42 News. “When I first got into the industry, all the books that were written by Black authors that got awards were always about civil rights or slavery. No bedtime stories. No stories about going to school."

“How many teachers want those students to be able to have that opportunity to see themselves reflected in the people that we bring in?” Haines asked WBRC before continuing, “More broadly, I am hoping that this leads our district to more fully enact its stated values regarding the diverse community that we live and teach in.”

The cancellation of authors speaking at elementary schools seems to be the latest trend seemingly stemming from the small faction of outspoken organizations that want to ban books in schools. Reasons for banning particular books span from "inappropriate" to Critical Race Theory, which is a graduate-level course taught to law students.

Throughout the process, it has not been clear what the exact offending material was that was posted to Barnes' social media page that started the cancellation. But the support shown is reason enough for the school district to reconsider hastily deciding things based on one person's dissent.

When asked about the support received by the teachers, Barnes told WBRC, “I look forward to finally coming down there hopefully this upcoming school year and I just want to tell all of them thank you, love them very much and keep up the fight.”

Sponsored

From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

True

Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

Brielle Asero lost her job after 2 months.

TikTokker Brielle Asero, 21, a recent college graduate, went viral on TikTok in October for her emotional reaction to the first day at a 9-to-5 job. The video, which received 3.4 million views, captured the public’s attention because it was like a cultural Rorschach test.

Some who saw the video thought that Asero came off as entitled and exemplified the younger generation’s lack of work ethic. In contrast, others sympathized with the young woman who is just beginning to understand how hard it is to find work-life balance in modern-day America.

“I’m so upset,” she says in the video. "I get on the train at 7:30 a.m., and I don't get home until 6:15 p.m. [at the] earliest. I don't have time to do anything!" Asero said in a video.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Therapist shares science-backed phrases that parents can use to gently defuse a meltdown

It's perfectly natural to want to raise your voice when a toddler is having a tantrum. But experts say there is a better way.

Canva

Finger pointing is actually NOT one of the suggested strategies

When your toddler has a meltdown, it's perfectly natural to want to fly off the handle.

There's nothing more infuriating than a small human repeatedly demanding something that's physically impossible for you to give them, or wailing because you had to punish them after repeatedly telling them to knock it off.

"I CREATED YOU, YOU LITTLE MONSTER. I CAN DESTROY YOU," you might want to say (though you never would). You love your kids — of course you do — but damn if they aren't the best at pushing you to your breaking point.

Keep ReadingShow less
@lindseyswagmom/TikTok

This daughter knew exactly what to get her dad for Secret Santa

Many people dream of somehow being able to pay their parents back for the sacrifices made for them during childhood. Whether that’s something physical, like paying off their mortgage, or simply being the best version of ourselves to make them absolutely proud.

For Lindsay Moore, it was finding a “prized possession” her dad once gave up to help the family, and returning it to him once again.

Moore still vividly remembers being only seven years old when she saw her father walk into a comic book store to sell a Dan Marino rookie football card from his first season with the Miami Dolphins.
Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Understand consent with the help of stick figures and a cup of tea

You'll never look at a cup of oolong the same way again.

It’s more than just tea.

In this hilarious and enlightening new animated video from Blue Seat Studios, consensual sex is explained in a way that everyone can understand.

By replacing sex with a cup of tea, this crudely drawn short offers a clear picture of what "saying yes" looks like.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Baby meets his dad's twin brother in an adorable viral video

Parenting is hard. Adult twins interacting with a baby? Hilarious.


Adult twins interacting with babies is pretty hilarious.

I know firsthand because I am a dad and a twin.

On my list of regrets as a dad, I'll place "not rolling video when our babies interacted with me and my identical twin" near the top of the list.

Thankfully, a dad shot some footage of his young son meeting his twin, and our lives are better because of it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Innovation

A student accidentally created a rechargeable battery that could last 400 years

"This thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it’s still going." ⚡️⚡️

There's an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

There's no better example of that than a 2016 discovery at the University of California, Irvine, by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.

Keep ReadingShow less