The Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Reading and Civic Engagement was established to continue Cynthia’s work and legacy of engaging the community through her love and appreciation for reading and facilitates stronger relationships among and between community members.
A lifelong Charlestonian, Cynthia Graham Hurd was a self-proclaimed book nerd who grew up to share her love of books and a tireless desire to help others in her community.
A 31-year employee of Charleston County Public Library, Cynthia was one of nine people tragically shot June 17, 2015 while attending a bible study at Emanuel AME Church - just four days before her 55th birthday.
During her years at the library, Cynthia touched the lives of thousands of people – encouraging children during their earliest days as new readers and then watching them grow as they came to the library to work on homework assignments, then fill out applications for colleges and jobs and, ultimately, return to the library with children of their own.
She developed a reputation as someone who listened, someone who cared and someone who took time to know the people visiting the library. She watched out for youth who seemed lost or who might find themselves going down the wrong path, finding ways to encourage them while helping them understand how their future could change if they learned to read.
Having grown up on the upper peninsula of Charleston and graduated from downtown Charleston schools, Cynthia went to Clark Atlanta University before returning to her hometown and joining Charleston County Public Library in 1984. So smitten with the world of books and understanding how they can change people’s lives, she returned to school part-time to get her masters in Library Information Sciences from the University of South Carolina. After receiving her degree, she moved up in the organization to become manager of the John L. Dart Library in 1990 - the very library that served the community where she grew up. In 2011, she was promoted to manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library, one of the busiest of CCPL’s 16 branches.
While working at CCPL, Cynthia shared her expertise, skill and love for books with students at the College of Charleston, taking a part-time librarian position at the college’s Addlestone Library in the 1990s. Although books and literacy were always nearby, she stretched her wings to help area residents through service in several community organizations. She was on the board of the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., active in Emanuel AME Church and spent time helping residents through outreach efforts and activities with numerous other local groups.
After her tragic passing the The Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Literacy and Civic Engagement was established to continue Cynthia’s work and legacy of engaging the community through her love and appreciation for reading. As a librarian, Cynthia stirred a passion for reading across generations and literary genres. The Foundation works the way Cynthia lived her life by advocating for the expansion of literacy and availability of books to everyone.
Dart mural story here
Friends, family and co-workers gathered Monday, June 20, 2016 at the John L. Dart Branch Library to honor one of those lost in the Emanuel AME Church shootings by dedicating a bright, wall-sized, geometric mural in her honor.
Cynthia Graham Hurd was full of life, full of joy and full of love for the Charleston County Public Library and all those who visited the branches she worked at or managed in her 31 years with the library. For more than 20 of those years, she worked at or managed the Dart Branch - the very branch that this self-proclaimed book nerd visited as a child growing up in Charleston's neck area.
"The mural is a beacon," said current Dart Manager Kim Odom, a close friend who considered Cynthia a mentor. "It brings people to one of the places she loved most in the neighborhood she grew up in. This is always where you'd find Cynthia. She'd be here among children, doing what she love while engaging and serving the people she loved."
According to Odom, it "expresses the joy that Cynthia expressed," and Monday's event allowed the people who loved Cynthia to come together and honor her legacy. "The event and the love shared during the dedication took my breath away"
Creating the mural, finding the artist and getting the funds were a true community effort. It was a collaboration between Charleston County Public Library, Enough Pie and was partially funded by donations from Winston & Strawn LLP.
The artist, Nick Kuszyk, aka R. ROBOTS, painted the bright, colorful mural on the south side of the John L. Dart Branch Library earlier this year. The New York resident is known for doing large public art projects, and his paintings grace walls in Berlin, Prague, London, Tel Aviv and throughout the United States.
"The mural serves as a bright, colorful invitation for all to come inside and experience the wonders of the library and explore books," said Cathryn Zommer with Enough Pie, an organization that is spearheading community improvements in the area and that helped back the creation of the mural.
During Cynthia's 31 years at the library, she touched the lives of thousands of people - encouraging children during their earliest days as new readers and then watching them return with homework assignments, to fill out applications for colleges and jobs and, ultimately, with children of their own.
honors and scholarships
Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award
Johnson C. Smith University, Arc of Triumph Award
College of Charleston Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship, 12 full academic scholarships
Charleston Housing Authority, Cynthia Graham Hurd Resident Scholarship
University Of South Carolina, School of Library and Information Science,Cynthia Graham Hurd Endowed Fellowship Scholarship,
Renaming of the St. Andrews Regional Library, to the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Regional Library