For nearly a decade, Cearra Harris has worked diligently to find the “spice” of her community, by creating outreach programs that focus on teens’ direct needs. She is now pursuing a MLIS at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro while working at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center. This year she was named a YALSA Spectrum Scholar and was awarded the Carla DuPuy Scholarship for her continued work with underprivileged groups.
Cearra’s career began at Richland Library in Columbia, SC. While working at Richland Library, she fell in love with programming, and developed a strong passion for serving the at-risk community. Cearra currently works for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as a Teens Services Specialist. Her most notable program to date is her outreach book club that is currently being facilitated at numerous community sites in Charlotte, NC. Unlike common book clubs, Cearra’s GREAT (Girlfriends Reading, Empowering, & Achieving Together) Literary Group uses music, short stories, and poetry to improve the literacy and interpersonal skills of the youth. Using her own past experiences as the catalyst for the work that she does in the community, Cearra’s motto “finding the purpose in your pain” is her motivation to use her past trials to push the community forward.
(Recorded November 11th, 2018 at Main Library)
3:06: Why Charlotte? Family and support system uplift into a plan out of depression and away from negative influences. “Moving to Charlotte was a fresh start… and it’s been up since then.”
4:15 Inspired to work at a library by Teen Librarian and started to lead programs for Richland County Library “It’s the library I grew up going to; that’s my community library.”
6:10 Development of library programs and services. “Anything that’s going to pull out emotions and get people talking.” Topics include race, meditation, and healing. “Use my platform to show them that they can make it through it, too.”
7:25 Florence Crittenton Serving “opportunity youth, instead of at-risk youth” (jump to 11:30 for explanation), mostly young women (some adults) who are expecting mothers. Adopted youth dealing with being pulled, abruptly out of their homes and all the emotions that conjures within the young women.
9:08 Utilized short stories, novels, and poetry in sessions. They really responded well to the poetry because it was material they could read and respond to in that moment. “They love stories of women who overcome hardships.” Uplifting conversations and trying to have those heavy conversations. Topics include: Racial Bias, code switching and Police brutality.
10:19 American Library Association’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Great Stories Club pilot program
10:30 The Hate U Give (2019 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s community read) Deep discussions on the use of the “n” word and assimilating in a society not build for women of color. March and Ms Marvel graphic novels also discussed.
12:45 Authenticity, genuine self-love, embracing flaws, and using lived experiences to inform a great future.
16:30 Life changing advice: Therapy as self-care, finding purpose in the good/bad of life, and continuously work on yourself.
19:25 Finding inspiration: in little sister, the people/connections you make, the young women at Florence Crittenton who share their success stories, and the youth that looks forward to the GREAT sessions. Reinforces that “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”