Celebrating literacy: The 6th Annual Literacy Festival

BY IVELLIAM CEBALLO, Neighborhood News Bureau

ST. PETERSBURG – “Readers are leaders!” The children chanted as they participated during the walk for reading.

Last Sat., March 6, the city of St. Petersburg celebrated the 6th annual James Weldon Johnson Community Library Literacy Festival. The library gives the community a reason to celebrate, according to its support group’s founding member.

Ernie Coney stood up for the then one room library in the Enoch Davis Community Center, which is next door to the now free standing library on 1059 18th Ave., with a group of volunteers collectively known as the Friends of the James Weldon Johnson Library.

Coney confirmed that about 50 volunteers supported the festival celebrating literacy on Saturday.

“It is important that people know they have a resource and it belongs to them,” he said. “We try to showcase that every year.”

The library opened in 2002 and since then has served the Midtown community.

Coney is saddened each year that the mainstream media doesn’t cover the festivities because he says, “All we hear about in the media is how dumb our kids are.”

The children at the festival participate in activities from hula hooping to jumping in bounce houses, but most importantly they go home with brand new books.

This year about 500 books were given away for free, according to Coney.

“It does my heart good,” he said about seeing the community come together to celebrate literacy.

Ivelliam Ceballo is a reporter in the Neighborhood News Bureau at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

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