Glory Edim, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, received a custom-designed T-shirt for her birthday. On the center was an emblem with her birthdate and a few of her favorite writers, including Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.
She says, “Every time I wore this shirt to the gym or running errands, I would constantly have people coming up to me, asking me questions and starting conversations. ‘Oh, what are you reading?’ ‘Where’d you get your shirt?’ “It would lead to these wonderful discussions about who our favorite author was and what books inspired us.”
Shortly after, she began her Instagram page, the Well-Read Black Girl. At a bookstore in Brooklyn one night, Edim met author Naomi Jackson. She told her that she wanted to begin hosting a bookclub. Edim took a chance and asked Jackson, one of her favorite authors, if she would attend the first meeting.
She agreed. Edim says, “She told us how she came to write such a rich story about black girlhood, homesickness, and displacement. We listened to her story of being a young black girl in search of love and acceptance in a foreign land — how that can feel both alien and familiar — and saw ourselves on the page.”
With the support of Jackson and her partner, she decided to build Well-Read Black Girl into a virtual community. “Sometimes it takes another person to tap you on the shoulder and help you realize your potential,” she says. “It wasn’t just me reading under the covers anymore. Other people wanted to connect over these books.”
The primary focus of the book club is novels by black women. The online community has grown to over 36,000 members!
Edim says of the Well Read Black Girl family, “These are all women who have played a role in growing the vision of the organization and through their support have become true friends. It feels amazing to have their insight and encouragement, and it makes me want to do that for other people.”