MIDDLEFIELD – A 10-year-old girl who has launched two fundraising projects in the past three years to supply school libraries across the state with books representing people of color has already raised $ 4,100 for her efforts.

Draya Gohagon, created a GoFundMe reader, Books that represent all children, this month and to date, has raised $ 2,605 of the $ 1,500 goal. It is the continuation of a successful effort in 2017, Children’s books for all children, which raised donations totaling $ 1,045.

This first fundraiser raised over $ 1,000 in two days.

Draya recently completed grade four at John Lyman Elementary School and is moving to Memorial Middle School.


Draya’s mother, Michelle Gohagon, director of instructional technology and professional development at Middletown Public Schools, is white and her father, Darrell Gohagon, who works at the State Department of Children and Families, is black .

Her parents spoke with Draya about recent events across the country regarding racism, Black Lives Matter and related protests.

“Even though we tried to protect Draya from what was going on, there was this kid who understood it,” his mother said.

“If children have more love in their hearts, maybe they wouldn’t act that way,” she told her daughter.

A design Draya made for the new GoFundMe record shows three fists that she colored with black, brown and yellow markers and carries the message: “I might not be the same, but it doesn’t matter.” . No freedom until we are equal. I support him of course!

Her daughter is held by her parents, said Darrell Gohagon. He said he’s usually the loudest person in the room, and his wife is also free to express his opinions.

“When we say something, we come from the heart, and that’s what she expressed to people,” he said.

Draya has always been curious, says her father. “She doesn’t really stop until she gets answers,” much like her parents.

His daughter’s activism at such a young age is impressive, he said. “It makes me super proud. When she and her mother decide on something, they can do anything. I just knew it was going to be successful this time.

The family regularly discusses race issues. “We give him the answers without scaring him too much. We give her the facts in a childish way to try to keep her still a child, ”said Darrell Gohagen.

Draya was a guest speaker at a recent Connecticut Association of School Librarians’ virtual meeting in nErDcampCT, which included librarians from across the country. Draya was a little shy at first, then presented a slideshow that she created and illustrated.

By way of introduction, Lyman librarian Jenny Lussier called Draya “one of the most amazing 10-year-olds I know.”

Draya told participants that his passion is activism. She shared that her favorite author is children’s book writer Jacqueline Woodson, and when she grows up she’ll want to become a dance teacher and activist.

“What people don’t always notice about me is that I’m black and white. I’m mixed and love it, ”she said.

“In kindergarten, she realized that maybe she was a little different from most of her classmates and she talked to us,” Michelle Gohagon said.

Draya described what precipitated his fundraising project.

“All of my classmates were allowed to draw their portrait with a pink or peach pencil, but my teacher – who is awesome – made the mistake of telling me that I had to draw my portrait with a brown pencil. I really wanted to. draw myself with a purple pencil, but I wanted to draw my color the same as everyone else, ”she said.

“My daughter has very fair skin, wobbles at the limit of white, and they gave her a black pencil. Maybe that raised questions, ”her father said.

Michelle Gohagon grew up in Enfield, which had a predominantly white population at the time, she said. Her husband grew up in New Britain.

“Because she lives in a predominantly white community here, we really wanted to have her love and embrace who she is, or we’re going to go down that road to not feel good about yourself,” Michelle Gohagon told About his daughter.

There are few people of color in this small rural community, his father said. “I thought she was the color brown (pencil) because her dad was that brown color, but she is definitely not that color,” he said.

“I didn’t want to be different. It made me sad to feel different, ”Draya said. Her teacher apologized and suggested that they meet with Lussier, her “favorite librarian,” to chart a course forward.

Her mother asked if there were any books about biracial children in the library. To add more, they made some suggestions together and set out to create the GoFundMe account.

Draya also participated in the Chalk the walk project, led by a social justice organization WEE people in Boston, which helps children and families learn to talk about race and fight racial injustice, according to her mother.

Draya even hopes that a representative will visit his school one day in person or virtually.

On the day of the Chalk the Walk event, the 10-year-old invited friends and neighbors to join her in making chalk quotes on the sidewalk outside her house. One was from Maya Angelo: “Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

She also spoke about her activism and shared topics important to her.

Draya’s next project is to interview her favorite authors for a YouTube channel she plans to start. The response, which Draya posted on her Twitter account, “snowballed,” her mother said, as they received a flood of offers.

For information, visit gofundme.com.

Editor’s Note: The original version of the article, “Buy Books That Describe Racial Diversity,” reported the incorrect name and link to the Wee the People event in the story. It was the Wee Chalk the walk

: a day of family action for Black Lives.



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