MINNEAPOLIS — Halfway across the country, Sheletta Brundidge still can't shake the images from the targeted attack on Buffalo's Black community.
"Just more than thoughts and prayers are needed. There's a time to think and a time to pray but there's also a time to do something. What could I do, 14, 15, 16 hours away?" Brundidge said from her home in the Twin Cities on Monday, in an interview conducted before the latest mass shooting in Texas. "How could I help this community, in a real, tangible way?"
Brundidge, a well-known podcaster, author and community advocate, got her answer quickly.
Last weekend, she became aware of a request from Zeneta Everhart, the director of diversity and inclusion for New York State Senator Tim Kennedy. Everhart, whose son Zaire was injured in the shooting at Tops, asked people to donate children's books in an effort to improve education about "black history, racism, and the importance of diversity." Her office set up a Book Wish List and announced plans to distribute the donated books to community centers and schools.
"I thought, 'that's it! That's me! I am a children's book author,'" said Brundidge, a mother of four who has written three children's books. "I am going to send every book that I have in my possession to Buffalo so that she can pass it out to children. What she's doing is ending racism through reading."
Brundidge said she assembled hundreds of copies of her own books, which focus on her children's autism journeys, to donate to Buffalo. Soon, other Black women children's book authors from the Twin Cities joined her effort, including Crown Shepherd and Dr. Artika R. Tyner. Together, Brundidge estimates that Twin Cities authors have donated at least 1,000 books to Buffalo, joining boxes upon boxes of other books donated from across the U.S.
"Racism does not have to be our tomorrow," Brundidge said. "If we are going to end this -- if we don't want this to happen again -- we have to educate our youngest citizens."
Brundidge has used a similar strategy here in the Twin Cities, following the murder of George Floyd two years ago. Almost every week, she has handed out books at George Floyd Square to help the community heal.
"I just want those families and those children, especially in Buffalo, to know they're loved," Brundidge said. "Somebody is thinking about them, we care about them, and we're there for them."
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