The Washington Reads Program partnered with Scholastic Book Fairs on National Read Across America Day to provide one hundred Washington Reads schools in the DMV region with two book packages containing books on diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The theme of the books was chosen to continue the Washington Reads's program initiative of providing diverse books to schools in the program.
With support from FedEx, the Read Across America Day books arrived at the schools, some more than 250 miles away from Ashburn, Virginia, by March 2 for teachers to share with their students.. The total donation of 800 books to the Washington Reads schools was just the beginning of the Read Across America Day Celebration.
This year, tight end Logan Thomas and FedEx Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Chris Winton, joined 10 schools in the DMV over Zoom to celebrate the holiday as the duo read excerpts from the book Dream March, a book about Martin Luther King's historical march on Washington in 1963, to the group.
Thomas and Winton started the event by discussing why reading is important to them. For Winton, he let the group in on a secret that he's learned throughout his life: "Once you start working and having a family and all of that, you have to continue learning, it doesn't stop," he said. "As leaders, continuing to read and understand and appreciate the stories others have had and their success, because sometimes you don't have to figure it out on your own, it's all put in a book."
Thomas reiterated to the group that reading is still a part of his everyday life, even as a professional football player. "Reading means a lot to me, especially in my line of work," Thomas said. "They give us a playbook at the beginning of the season and the first 20 pages is nothing but words and it tells you the descriptions of our plays and our team and what we're going to do and how we're going to do things."
The tight end added that reading meant a lot to him outside of football, saying that "knowledge is power and the only way to gain knowledge is by reading."
Once the duo was done reading, Winton talked with the group about diversity in FedEx's workspace.
"Diversity is what I see on this screen right now," he said. "The different faces, the different hairstyles, the different clothes you're wearing, everything about you as an individual. You look like the customers we serve every day. It's important to us at FedEx and when I'm hiring individuals such as yourselves that look like the customers we serve."
As the event continued, a student asked Thomas how he went from not liking to read to developing a love for literature. He responded by saying his mom kept encouraging him, and he ended up finding books that he enjoyed reading. His personal favorite genres are mystery and adventure books.
"It's all stepping stones and building blocks, but it all starts with just finding something you love."
Thomas closed out the event by answering a question about how he overcame the challenges of growing up biracial.
"It wasn't the most normal thing for my area, people didn't really understand it and gave my mom a hard time. So every day I felt like I had something to prove on both sides of the fence. Growing up like that can be tough if you don't have the right head on your shoulders or the right people around you. So for me, it was always the balance between my white side and my African American sides and living up to the standards of both sides."