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A grassroots effort to educate Western New York kids about diversity

“That’s what this is about. Put a book in a kids hand and you are not only giving them a mirror, but it’s also a window."
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Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 17:35:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A grassroots effort to educate Western New York kids about diversity has a permanent home.

Thousands of books have arrived in Buffalo donated by authors all over the country, but the home storing the donations quickly ran out of room, so it's now housed at Villa Maria College.

Zeneta Everhart and her son Zaire Goodman, a survivor of a racist attack of the Tops mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue, spearhead this book drive by collecting stories to help kids understand race and Black history.

"That's what this is about. Put a book in a kid's hand, and you are not only giving them a mirror, but it's also a window," Everhart says.

Educating people about different groups and cultures is something his mom says can help our community heal.

"I specifically wanted to do this at Villa because it's the first place that I took African American literature course taught by a White man," she says. "And that was huge for me. My parents taught us what they could growing up, but there were a lot of things that we didn't learn and I learned at Villa Maria College."

Dr. Matthew Giordano is president of Villa Maria and Zeneta's former history teacher. He says at some point in his life, he was blinded by not knowing the in-depth African American history.

"I didn't learn or know about not just African American history," Dr. Giordano says. "But our broader American collective history until I went to graduate school, basic things I should've learned at a much younger age."

And now, he's using his power to support the mission in hopes of making a change.

"The next generation of leaders, Buffalonians and Americans really understand how our community got to be the way it was how our country got to be the way it was these things just don't happen," he says.

This cause isn't not only for the youth but also for adults to have several options to learn from.

"My ancestors built this country, and children don't know that, and they should know that, and adults should know that," Everhart says.