This collection was established with the generous donation of 133 children's books from Dr. Todd, Lonette, and Bryce Allen in the fall of 2021.
The purpose of the Bridge to Freedom Children's Collection is to provide educational resources for children grounded in the Civil Rights Movement but inclusive of other diverse historical experiences in the ongoing struggle for equality, freedom, justice, and reconciliation.
Murray Library seeks to provide a welcoming collection and place for children to enter into stories that mirror who they are in the midst of a diverse world and give them hope for equality, freedom, justice, and reconciliation as persons made in the image of God.
This collection regularly circulates under the same terms as juvenile fiction and non-fiction titles. Clarification can be sought at the Circulation Desk.
New titles added to the Bridge to Freedom Children's Collection will be curated by the Bridge to Freedom Acquisitions Committee.
The Bridge to Freedom Collection was dedicated on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 3 PM.
Allen Family Bio
Dr. Todd, Lonette, and their son Bryce Allen are from Beaver Falls, PA and came to Messiah in the summer of 2017. Todd currently serves as the Vice President for Diversity Affairs, Lonette as an Acquisitions Technician, and Bryce is a recent graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Computer Science.
In 2002 Dr. Allen founded The Common Ground Project, a community based non-profit dedicated to promoting an understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. For the past 20 years, in partnership with the PNC Foundation, he has led the “Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights” bus tour, an educational tour which visits many of the key southern sites of the Civil Rights Movement. This collection of children’s literature and illustrations centered in the African American experience, with a particular emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement, has been in the making for the past several years. As a family the Allens know how much they have been blessed in not only learning this history, but personally engaging with many of the persons who made this history. Their prayer is that this collection will help children and families come to know the persons and stories that comprise our shared history and that this knowledge will lead us one step closer to the establishment of Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community.
CONTACT: Danielle Ran,
Director of Communications
for immediate release
Messiah University unveils The Bridge to Freedom Collection,
a new reading space and children’s collection at Murray Library
MECHANICSBURG, Pennsylvania (Jan. 31, 2022) – A dedication ceremony was recently held to unveil a new reading space and children’s collection at Messiah University’s Murray Library. The Bridge to Freedom Collection provides educational resources for children centered on the Civil Rights Movement and other historical experiences with themes of equality, freedom, justice and reconciliation.
“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” These words from the late Senator John Lewis grace the entrance to the redesigned space.
The dedication event, held on Jan. 18, 2022, featured a ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks from campus leaders. About 75 attendees from the campus and local community heard from University President Dr. Kim S. Phipps, Library Director Linda Poston, Vice President for Diversity Affairs Dr. Todd Allen, and Teaching Ministries Pastor Emily Bingham.
This collection was generously established through the donation of 133 children's books from Dr. Todd, Lonette and Bryce Allen. Dr. Allen is founder of the Common Ground Project, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement. He initiated the creation of the Bridge to Freedom collection after he, Library Director Linda Poston, and other Messiah colleagues returned from a summer 2021 tour of Civil Rights historic sites throughout the southern states.
“One of my favorite photos from the dedication ceremony and reception is of a little girl absorbed in reading one of the books,” said Poston. “That’s what it’s all about and that is what makes it worthwhile!”
The resources will be primarily used by students in the university’s education department for coursework and field experiences, yet the reading space and books are open to the public. From brightly colored furniture to framed prints of book illustrations, the welcoming collection and space is meant for readers to enter into stories that illustrate the human experience. The public may visit the Bridge to Freedom Room within Murray Library during regular open hours. The collection will continue to grow with new additions each year. More information about the collection can be found here.
About Messiah University
Founded in 1909 and located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Messiah University is a nationally ranked, private Christian university of the liberal and applied arts and sciences that enrolls nearly 3,400 undergraduate, adult degree program and graduate students.
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