Little Free Library honors Tuskegee Airman Harold Brown

May 7, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

From left, Marsha Bordner, Louise Terry and Rich Norgard were among the crowd who attended the ribbon cutting of a new Little Free Library that honors Tuskegee Airman Harold Brown. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Bella Terry honored her friend, the late Dr. Harold Brown, with a Little Free Library at Waterworks Park. (Submitted photo)

As a biracial young woman coming to age in an American small town in 2024, Bella Terry shouldn’t know racism on a personal level, but she does. The 18-year-old Port Clinton resident has experienced racism her entire life, and her experiences drew her close to the late Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Harold Brown, who encouraged her to thrive beyond the injustice, find her own voice in the world, and use that voice to help others.

Now, Bella is honoring Brown with a Little Free Library placed at Waterworks Park in his memory. A ribbon cutting for the book box was held on May 4.

“Bella is biracial, and we went looking for role models for her,” said her grandmother, Louise Terry. “She happened to meet Harold when she was about 14, and she got to hear his message to keep your airspeed up.”

Brown overcame racial obstacles and impacted the nation as a Tuskegee airman and education proponent. Bella’s experience with racism and her connection to Brown taught her to transform her pain into activism.

“Bella became an advocate for the underdog and the marginalized,” Louise said.

“Bella would come over to our house to visit Harold,” said Brown’s widow, Dr. Marsha Bordner. “Harold was really beloved by children. He told them things that would last a lifetime.”

Among the lessons he taught them was, “Education is key.” Brown, who is a former vice president of academic affairs at Columbus State Community College, promoted the importance of education throughout his life.

This Little Free Library, with a P51 displayed on top, honors Tuskegee Airman Harold Brown. (Submitted photo)

Installing a Little Free Library, which encourages reading, was the perfect way to honor Brown.

“It gives me goosebumps. Harold would have loved the idea that people are reading,” Bordner said. “Education really was key for him and other African Americans.”

Bella chose to place the box at Waterworks Park so it could be easily accessible to the thousands of people who visit the park each year to see the Port Clinton Lighthouse or swim at the beach. The placement had to be approved by the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy, who happily welcomed the project.

“I think it’s great,” said Rich Norgard of the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy. “It encourages reading, and it’s one more thing to enhance the area.”

The book box falls under the umbrella of the Ottawa County Little Free Library Stewards” but will be maintained by student stewards, including Bella, Max Joseph, Lynzie Petersen, Rachel Auerbach and Hannah Castro. Each day, a steward will clean the outside of the box and fill it with books.

“We’ll have books for toddlers, children, young adults and adults,” Louise said.

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