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February 24, 2022

Virtual Black History Library

Guest blog post by Sarah Segrest, Founder, Octosmos
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We turned a virtual expo hall in Virbela into an immersive, interactive library - complete with outdoor spaces, artwork and music!


But that’s not the point. 


Libraries are amazing repositories of information and stories. There’s something about being in the presence of rows and rows of books that feels inspiring in and of itself, just knowing all that knowledge is there. Since public libraries are free and open to all (though not so long ago, that wasn’t the case) it elevates them to an even higher level of importance in society; a place for community where neighbors mix, mingle and learn from each other, as well as the books. 


Community was top of mind as we thought about what a virtual library should be. So we reached out to friends in our Virbela community to help lead the way. What we learned from these four women was more powerful and inspiring than we could ever have imagined.


Kearie Daniel is an activist, writer, parent advocate and communicator. She is the author behind Woke Mommy Chatter and a founding member of Parents of Black Children. Kearie helped us make sure we represented Canadian black writers in the library.


Asadah Kirkland is an author, community leader and founder of the Soulful Chicago Book Fair (which she’s hosting virtually in a Virbela campus this year!). Asadah taught us the importance of black authors writing their own stories, to be in control of the narratives of their lives. She emphasized the fact that in the metaverse, black writers can portray themselves and their work without anyone stopping them! 


Desh Bagley is an entrepreneur, educator and thought leader. She founded TechPlayzone, is the Director of Coding Academy at the State College of Florida and has been a volunteer for FIRST for over 15 years. Desh explained her firsthand experience with the power of Virbela to foster diversity, equity and inclusion for our kids. She also enlightened us about the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, born out of a desire from black students to be part of a community during the college experience (and beyond). 


Bonnie Bracey Sutton is an educator, technologist, visionary and lifelong learner. She’s been teaching for more than 50 years, has been to 45 countries and has worked with and for President Clinton, George Lucas, NASA and others. She is currently the Director of Digital Equity Resource Research and Dissemination with NCDE. Bonnie told us her stories as a pioneer in education, equity and technology, inspiring us with her wisdom and personal insight into black history over the last several decades. She also reminded us that the struggle and pain of black history should not be soon forgotten, or ignored. 


Together with this amazing group of women and the Virbela team, we built this Virtual Black History Library; a unique “learning landscape”, as Bonnie put it so eloquently. Together we helped revolutionize how communities can come together virtually to learn from one other. Together we formed a community that shares a vision for a better future, where everyone can tell their story and be heard, where all of us are equal. 


And that, most definitely, is the point. 

This article was contributed by Sarah Segrest, Founder of Octosmos.

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