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'Representation Matters' Metro Schools employee launches 'Black Book Project'

Books received for the Black Book Project in Nashville (Meredith McKinney)
Books received for the Black Book Project in Nashville (Meredith McKinney)
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A Metro Nashville Public Schools employee has launched the “Black Book Project” in hopes to improve the representation in books for children in the community.

It’s in conjunction with Book’em, an organization that’s helped deliver books more then 765,000 books to kids since 1989.

Metro Schools employee and Book’em board member Meredith McKinney says she saw a visible lack of African American books in Book’em inventory, which is the highest population of children it serves.

“Book’em serves some children that live economically challenging circumstances, and I wanted children to receive a book that represents them that they would not typically be able to own,” McKinney said.

To try and improve representation, the Black Book Project was born in April 2020.

“I initially asked close friends and families to support me,” McKinney explained. “I received such a great response from them that I decided to take it to social media on January 15, 2021, and with Black History Month coming up it seems like timing was perfect.”

ALSO SEE: Celebrating Black History Month in Nashville

McKinney has a goal of collecting 500 books with African American characters and has already received a couple hundred books in a matter of weeks.

“I’m thrilled about the reaction this initiative has received,” McKinney said. “I have received responses from the Nashville community and across the country. I have had authors from Texas, Alabama, and Georgia reach out to donate their books!”

This is a passion project for McKinney, who is African American, the mother of two Black sons and a former teacher.

“I am aware of how important representation is and for children to see themselves in literature,” McKinney says. “It makes reading relatable, and children feel empowered.”

McKinney hopes to continue collecting books and expand the reach of children in Nashville.

Right now, that means getting help from a 10-year-old who learned about the program and is stepping up to help.

“I had a mother of a 10-year-old email me and told me that her daughter wanted to partner with me and help collect books, I spoke with her daughter, and she said she wanted to help because she understands some children don’t own books that look like them. She went on to say representation does matter to me,” McKinney said. “Look at Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, and Dr. Adrienne Battle, we could hold those positions one day; representation matters.”

The Black Book Project is collecting new and gently used books. Inquiries can be sent to

Where to send books?

  • Book'em
  • Attention: Meredith McKinney
  • 161 Rains Ave.
  • Nashville, TN 37203
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