Home Author Columbus author provides free school supplies

Columbus author provides free school supplies


Hanif Abdurraqib is proud of his roots.

He does not hesitate to be a native of Columbus and a graduate of Beechcroft High School. He fondly recalls his time in the schools of Columbus City, but also knows that if it hadn’t been for the mentors and teachers, he wouldn’t be where he is today – a writer and successful poet.

“Without outside support and a few teachers, I don’t know how I would have survived my school years,” he said.

Now, at 38, Abdurraqib is finding ways to help students who were like him.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, he will host a back-to-school party at the site of the popular Columbus Mural, 1450 E. Main St. The mural, which is a photo of him, commissioned by CBus Libraries and completed by Bryan Moss and Hakim Callwood, is a special place for Abdurraqib and not just because he is the subject of the work.

He wants it to be a place for the community, a place where he can give back to the town he grew up in. The event, where people can pick up backpacks full of free school supplies, eat and listen to music, is just the first step in that process.

“The goal is also to make it an annual thing,” he said. “It can’t be an annual thing if you don’t do it once to see how it goes.”

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Abdurraqib wants to give back to Columbus

Abdurraqib has immense gratitude to Callwood and Moss for making the mural of him, but he acknowledges that he had a strange feeling seeing it when it was finished.

“I don’t think of myself very differently from other people in the city,” he said. “This level of attention alarmed me at first. I was grateful, but an entire mural?”

Despite the success Abdurraqib has had, he considers himself a normal man from Columbus, who is now reaping the rewards of his hard work. In September 2021, Abdurraqib was named a MacArthur Fellow. Genius Fellowships, as they are called, are awarded to writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or other fields. The scholarship comes with a $625,000 stipend that can be used to further their work or career.

And earlier this year, he won a Carnegie Medal for his “A Little Devil in America” ​​essay collection. The author and poet has won numerous other awards and accolades.

Despite his accomplishments, however, he never wanted the mural to speak for himself. The plan was always to talk about the city and something bigger than one man.

“We talked about this rally and that it’s not just a monument to everything people think about me being in the city,” he said. “It can’t just be my face on the wall, however beautiful it is, with gratitude to Bryan and Hakim, it can’t just be my face on a wall.

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The idea of ​​a homecoming party has several purposes.

First and foremost, it’s a chance for families and students to get the school supplies and help they need. Abdurraqib will have 120 backpacks filled with notebooks, pencils and pens to give to those present. Participants don’t have to show they are in need, just show up and grab a backpack. He bought all the backpacks and will also include a Target gift card in them for families who might need other supplies.

Create a festive environment for the party

The event, however, is not limited to backpacks. Abdurraqib does not want this to be a one-time event.

“I could have left them at the mural site and told them to pick them up and leave, but the point is to make it something where people can hang out, have an experience and have a good time” , he said.

He wanted an event to celebrate the end of summer, so he planned a full block party in a sense. Nervous about doing it at first, he initially thought it could be an all-day event, but cut it down to two hours thinking about people spending hours in the summer heat.

Still, it will have free food prepared by Willowbeez SoulVeg, performances by Joey Aich, Dom Deshawn, Aloe Vera and more.

“I remember when I was in school, I hated the end of summer, hated the last two weeks,” he said. “It was good to live in this town, to have a block party or something. I wanted to play a small contribution to invite a little fun at the end of the summer.

Saturday’s event is a celebration of many things. It’s the mural’s first anniversary, but moreover, it’s the start of how Abdurraqib hopes the mural will be used – as a way to bring together a community that helped uplift him.

“We were thinking together and we thought if we were having a party, it couldn’t just be ‘happy one year of this mural,'” he said. “It must serve a useful purpose that goes beyond myself.”

In one look

Hanif Abdurraqib will host a back-to-school party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the site of the popular Columbus Mural, 1450 E. Main St.. Holding the party on the mural’s first anniversary, Abdurraqib will give 120 backpacks filled with school supplies to help families before the end of summer. The event will also have music, catered food and is free to attend.