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Social Awareness Taskforce

Richland Library

Contact Name: Tamara King,
Type of Initiative: Inclusion and Tolerance 
Initiative Partners: Justice360, WREN and SC ETV


In 2016, in response to local civil unrest caused by the removal of the Confederate Flag from our State House and the Charleston, S.C. massacre, as well as many other recent conflicts and tragedies, Richland Library formed a Social Awareness Taskforce (SAT) to address these concerns more directly.  The taskforce’s purpose is “to actively build community by encouraging honest dialogue, empathy and courageous communication.” SAT consists of 10 diverse staff members who have been trained to lead discussions on race, bias, inclusivity and equality.

For the taskforce’s initial topic, we tackled social justice.  Richland Library’s SAT partnered with South Carolina Educational Television and Justice 360, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a fair and just criminal justice system for capital defendants.

Over the course of a month, we held a series of community forums and book groups for the New York Times Bestseller Just Mercy in advance of author Brian Stevenson’s visit to Columbia, S.C.. Stevenson has been in the news lately for his work on criminal justice reform, and he is also the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.  The library’s SAT also distributed 250 free copies of his book throughout the community. The Let’s Talk: Justice conversations were a success with more than 120 people coming together to talk about race, social justice, criminal justice reform and equality. The Brian Stevenson author talk garnered more than 1,000 attendees.  The library also continued our Let’s Talk series by choosing Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr. as our One Book, One Columbia community selection to further this conversation.