ALA, BCALA respond to destruction of Michael Brown, Jr. Memorial Tree

For Immediate Release
Mon, 04/20/2015


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO – On Saturday, April 18, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) dedicated a living memorial tree and stone monument to the City of Ferguson, Missouri.  The tree was planted in January-Wabash Park with a monument stone at its base honoring slain teen Michael Brown, Jr. 

The City of Ferguson and BCALA held a formal dedication ceremony at the site, which honors the memory of Brown, an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown’s shooting became the catalyst for a national movement aimed at holding police accountable for their use of force – including deadly force – against citizens, especially African Americans and other minorities.

Less than 24 hours after the dedication ceremony, the tree was found cut in half and the memorial stone was stolen.

American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young and BCALA President Kelvin A. Watson released the following joint statement regarding the destruction of the living monument and how this action impacts future attempts to honor Brown. 

“We are saddened that such a heartfelt gift from the library community was not met with acceptance. The living monument was to serve as a symbol of peace, comfort, and hope for all those who gather under its branches. Our hope was that as the tree matured it would represent the growth of unity within Ferguson.

“This incident will not deter the library community.  As information providers we understand that in order for society to move forward we must learn from our history.  This act of vandalism illustrates that there are member(s) of the community who wish not to honor and learn from its history, but to continue to repeat the mistake of violence and intolerance. 

“Many things have been destroyed in Ferguson, but the death of the tree has not abolished our commitment to facilitate a positive growth within the community. We will not give up on Ferguson and will continue to promote peace and tolerance.”  

About the BCALA
BCALA is a nonprofit organization for different areas of librarianship, including school, public, academic, and special, with national and international membership.  It also provides game-changing leadership for the recruitment and development of African-American education and information professionals. It is one of five American Library Association ethnic affiliates and advocates for promoting and improving library services to diverse populations and communities of color. In addition, BCALA has sponsored a Literary Awards for African American authors since 1994 and is also a sponsor of the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Award.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA), the voice of America’s libraries, is the oldest, largest, and most influential library association in the world. Its approximately 56,000 members are primarily librarians but also trustees, publishers, and other library supporters. The Association represents all types of libraries; its mission is to promote the highest-quality library and information services and public access to information.