Angel Jewel Tucker | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Community Builders

The 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin broke Angel Tucker’s heart. Then a young adult librarian at the Central branch of Kansas’s Johnson County Library system, located in the metropolitan Kansas City area, Tucker teamed up with a library committee led by civic engagement librarian Louisa Whitfield Smith to host a public, deliberative dialog about the controversial ruling.
Angel Jewel Tucker

CURRENT POSITION

Youth Services Manager, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, KS

DEGREE

MLS, Emporia State University, KS, 2009

FOLLOW

Race Project - KC; Johnson County Library Teens

Photo by Jazzmin and Prentiss Earl

MS_logo_300x81

Race Matters

The 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin broke Angel Tucker’s heart. Then a young adult librarian at the Central branch of Kansas’s Johnson County Library (JCL) system, located in the metropolitan Kansas City area, Tucker teamed up with a library committee led by civic engagement librarian Louisa Whitfield Smith to host a public, deliberative dialog about the controversial ruling.

Around then, author Tanner Colby spoke at the Kansas City Public Library about his book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America, an examination of how segregation has been maintained in the United States—particularly in Kansas City and Johnson County—through redlining, racial covenants, and blockbusting. “I don’t remember much other than the author [saying] that teenagers were not interested in talking about race,” she recalls. “I knew instantly he was wrong, and his statement...is a source of motivation for me.”

A year later, her branch hosted Colby to talk about race with teenagers. So did Blue Valley North High School, which is mostly white. In preparation for that visit, Tucker helped one teacher integrate the book into her sociology curriculum and brought in people of color to talk about their experiences. Local educators were hungry for information, says Tucker.

Those early efforts became the core of the JCL/local schools’ Race Project KC, an annual immersive racial justice initiative for high schoolers—and educators—focused on U.S. history, with Colby’s book as the principal text. The project pairs students from predominantly white high schools with those at predominantly black ones and one that is mostly Hispanic. Tucker coordinates monthly events through the school year, including author talks, museum visits, deliberative dialogs, and educator summits. She also arranges “segregation bus tours,” developed by JCL civic engagement librarian Ashley Fick and her Civic Engagement committee, that expose how race, money, and real estate shape neighborhoods.

Since 2014, more than 1,200 students and 500 educators have participated—many of whom live in communities that remain essentially segregated today.

“Getting to know people from other parts of the city has been awesome,” one student said. “And to learn the history of our city was shocking and makes me want to be more civically involved.”

Tucker, who has been JCL’s youth services manager since 2016, wants to extend Race Project KC to other cities. “Public librarians can serve as both the connector and the thread of binding people who would otherwise stay separate,” she says.

Comments

Charlie Murphy

Well Deserved Angel. ~ Keep fighting the good fight!

Posted : Mar 19, 2018 06:44


Lillie P. DE

You are so thoughtful and caring. Just a joy to observe you from a distance and to know that you are making a difference in others and doing something about wrongs. Continue to be the best you. You are special to me and I only hope that you continue to make a difference. Be blessed and know that you matter. Peace !

Posted : Mar 19, 2018 03:36


Chris Rogers

Angel, You are courageous, and so appreciated for what you are doing as a librarian and civic Engager! I immediately reserved the book you used in your projects to read and hoe it will spur me to do something similar on some level in the 3 communities I serve in SC.

Posted : Mar 19, 2018 02:00


Louisa Whitfield-Smith

Congratulations, Angel! So well earned!!

Posted : Mar 17, 2018 12:05


Jasmin Moore

Angel is a great example of someone who is not satisfied with accepting the status quo. She is making things happen and changing the game!

Posted : Mar 16, 2018 09:46


View More Comments

RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.