Transcript of a conversation between Jeremee DeMoir, owner of DeMoir Books & Things, and Kristin Davis, director of strategic partnerships for Give901.
We are pleased to announce Bookmark901, a collaboration between Give901, Choose901 and Jeremee DeMoir, owner of DeMoir Books & Things. Jeremy plans to share a list of books in honor of Black History Month throughout February. First, we would like to introduce ourselves and share with you why we are so excited about this project.
Christine: Tell me about DeMoir Books & Things.
Jeremy: DeMoir books and stuff It soon became one of the prominent independent bookstores in Memphis. We are black owned, which is really cool for a city that’s 60 percent African American. One of my favorite pieces is the local author’s shelves, which hold books by the Memphians.
Christine: Before DeMoir Books & Things opened last summer, I was an English teacher. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and initial interest in education?
Jeremy: I had some great teachers in high school. My English teacher, Miss Hope, and my art history teacher, the late Natalie Smith, have been very influential in my life. They helped me navigate things. I was a first generation college student, so I had no family members who had gone before to help guide me. Once I graduated, I wanted to give back to the community of people who look like me, and who don’t look like me.
Once I graduated, I wanted to give back to the community
From people who look like me, who don’t look like me.
Jeremy DeMoir’s Books & Things DeMoir
Christine: As a teacher, have you noticed anything that has been particularly successful in cultivating a love of reading in your class?
Jeremy: There has been a comeback in the adult literature genre for young adults over the past five to six years. People write more realistic stories and it appeals to children because they need something to relate to. They need representation and this was a huge thing going on. Nonfiction literature has been a driving force for engaging students with relevant stories.
The only thing we have in store is a program where every child gets a book regardless of whether their dad buys a book or not. They have to choose the book. Sometimes kids just need an extra boost to love books.
Christine: A book like this can make a difference to a child who is attached to a character. I also think it can be really touching for someone who is not necessarily related but who is gaining fame by reading books and learning what their peers might be dealing with.
Jeremy: The collection of books I recommend for Black History Month covers a range of topics. They are not just for any particular race. I’m excited to discuss it with the world and hope to have some really great conversations. It’s a very solid list that covers books for young children to middle grades to young adults and everywhere in between. Hopefully this will lead to a great conversation starter for people.
Jeremy: As a Mymphani, I am familiar with Choose901 as a source of news, jobs and information about all the great things that are happening in our city, but what is Give901?
Christine: Give901 is the latest campaign to come out of City Leadership, the organization that supports Choose901, Teach901 and Serve901. With Give901, we’re partnering with 10 nonprofits here in Memphis who are all doing a great job with K through 12 educational initiatives. Our goal is to ensure that children from all over the city, especially from the poorest neighborhoods in Memphis, have access to great schools, great teachers, and great mentors.
Give901 is made up of members, individuals, or entire companies, who are committed to giving their time, treasure, and voice to support these nonprofits. We build customized partnerships with businesses or individuals to see how they want to participate. Do you want to be a mentor? Are you able to provide financial support? Would you like to bring your company or team together for a day of service?
Jeremy: How your work with Give901 led to this collaboration with DeMoir Books & Things.
Christine: I’ve spoken with leaders at several of our partner schools about the need for more books written and marked by people who look like their students. I’ve become so aware of the need for more comprehensive book choices, then all of a sudden you’re here to help fill that gap.
Christine: Let’s talk about what readers can expect from us in February. I don’t want to give up the titles yet, but give us a glimpse of what’s to come.
Jeremy: I thought about the books that really affected me and the students I taught across demographics. I thought of books with central messages that transcend any particular demographic.
We have all these amazing Anglo-Saxon authors who told some really great stories that sometimes contain diverse characters, but that’s not always the focus or the foreground. I think it’s really cool to have new voices like Angie Thomas or Tomi Adeyemi. It’s so amazing to have all these different voices highlighting, it’s okay for your main characters to be such a colorful person.
My whole goal is just to drive conversations and awareness and hopefully be a voice, not an echo.
Christine: Well, I can’t wait to see your book recommendations and start reading. In addition to following the project on social media, what else can Memphisson do to learn about black history in February and throughout the year?
- Check out this amazing campaign called Black history is 365.
- Visit museums that house black art.
- Unapologetic is a black community in Memphis.
- Visit black cafes. There is one Cxfeeblack This is on National Street. It’s the first black coffee shop in town.
- Visit black-owned businesses and hear people’s stories. Really care about the narrative being changed and created. Just as with everyone else, there is a wealth of knowledge and stories to tell. Immerse yourself in a black experience.
- Buy your book here because we specialize in the dark experience.
These are ways you can learn about black history, not just in February, but throughout the year.
Beginning the first week of February, you can find Jeremee DeMoir’s weekly book recommendations on the social media channels Give901, Choose901, Teach901 and DeMoir Books & Things.
Visit DeMoir Books & Things on the web, on Facebook or Instagram.
Find out more about Give901 on the web, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.