#OPLSummer Week 4: Social Justice

Written by Mika Permutt & A. Lolade Gbadebo. This week at the Oakland Public Library, we honor the strong tradition of activism in our communities. How can we practice justice, liberation, and peace with one another?

 M is for Movement book cover

This week at the Oakland Public Library, we honor the strong tradition of activism in our communities. How can we practice justice, liberation, and peace with one another?  Activists use different methods to create change, and no matter how young or old you are, you can play an important role!


Different kinds of activism

Direct action: This kind of activism goes right to the source and demands change: protests, strikes, and sit-ins. An example of direct action happening right now in the Bay Area is the protests to Save the Shellmound, which is on Ohlone land (like all of Oakland).   

How can kids participate in direct action? You can:

  • Go to family-friendly protests
  • Join a picket line (if workers are on strike, they might carry signs outside their workplace to tell people not to support the business) and support worker-friendly businesses
  • Make posters for protests and hand them out to people or carry them yourself

Mutual aid: This kind of activism strengthens a community by making sure everyone is taken care of. Oakland’s legendary Black Panther Party for Self Defense provided dozens of mutual aid programs, including free meals, childcare, transportation, and even medical and dental services. Organizations like the People’s Kitchen Collective, People’s Programs, and the Bay Area Childcare Collective continue this legacy today.

How can kids participate in mutual aid? You can:

poster by artist Micah Bazant

  • Deliver groceries and/or household supplies to a neighbor/family member

  • Offer babysitting or tutoring to your family/kids in your neighborhood

  • Help someone with their computer or their phone

  • Help translate information into another language (being multilingual can be like a superpower!)


Art & music & writing: All kinds of activism can be creative, but this one is about what you can make using your voice, your words, or your paints/crayons/markers! Last summer, people came together to protest police brutality and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. Beautiful murals went up across downtown Oakland, filling walls with color, passion, and powerful messages. 

 Artists who live in the Bay Area and use their art as part of their activism include: Micah Bazant, Favianna Rodriguez, Christian Robinson, Innosanto Nagara, and Maya Gonzalez; almost all of them make books for kids, too!

Instagram post by artist Christian Robinson


Activism in your library: Read, Watch, Do this summer

 Read: Looking for some book recommendations to get you thinking about ways to make a difference? Start with this booklist.

Watch: This week we’ve got the Alphabet Rockers, who make music that makes change, performing live on Zoom for OPL on Juneteenth (6/19/21) at 10:30am.

Do: Our craft for the week is run by the Social Justice Sewing Academy on Zoom, so register today to get your supplies and learn about how to create an amazing and empowering quilt square. Part one takes place on 6/24/21 and part two takes place on 7/22/21.

You can also get a badge this week in our Summer Reading program for writing a letter to support a cause you care about. You can:

 What do you want to be different?

Come talk to your children’s librarian to tell us what kinds of activism you’re interested in trying out this summer—maybe you’ll find someone to connect with and you can start a band together, make posters for a protest, volunteer with an organization, or help your neighbors!