Libraries play a vital role in our society. As institutions of learning, the library collects, preserves, and shares knowledge. Libraries are also spaces of power and privilege that, throughout history, have hurt and oppressed Black lives. The Tougaloo Nine protested the segregation in Jackson, Mississippi and chose the whites-only public library for a read-in in 1961; Pearl Townsend resigned herself to suffering such indignities quietly and waited 73 years to get a library card. The library’s painful legacy continues to affect our communities to this day.
In 2016, I was working as a branch manager of a public library. It was the summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. Before the 2016 election, white people believed in a color-blind post- racial society. But as police brutality played out on social media feeds and TV news, white Americans could no longer ignore the elephant in the room. I saw families…
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