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“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

Toni Morrison, in an interview for O: The Oprah Magazine

Toni Morrison is an American author, editor, literary critic, playwright, and professor. She has won numerous honorable literary and humanitarian distinctions throughout her life, such as the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s focus on the black experience in America, as well as her refusal to include the white gaze in her works or to write for a white reading audience, is something she credits to making her works standout amongst other writers.

Morrison’s most notable works of fiction include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and her most recently published work God Help the Child. Some of her noteworthy nonfiction titles are Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary ImaginationBirth of a Nation’hood, and Burn This Book

The Rhythmic Art of Thread

Currently showing now – Friday, February 24 at 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

The Arsenal Gallery
64th Street and 5th Avenue
3rd Floor

The Rhythmic Art of Thread showcases works in fiber that explore diverse themes of culture, spirituality, historical events, and icons. Contemporary artists merge techniques of quilting, applique, mixed media, screening, fabric collage, and fiber fusion to tell stories and present abstract imagery in textile art. The exhibition features the works of Michael A. Cummings, Shimoda Emanuel, Ife Felix, Laura R. Gadson, Jacqueline Johnson, Jackquelynn Jones, Dindga McCannon, Lisa Shepard Stewart, and 2016 Teen Curators of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Admission is free.

Color of Comics Exhibition

Thursday, February 16 – February 25, 9:00 am–5:00 pm

Poe Park Visitor Center in Poe Park 
2640 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY
The Color of Comics exhibition, curated by Ray Felix, showcases the private art collections from artist, Ray Felix, and writer, Alex Simmons, along with several talented African-American artists in the comic book industry. Artists include: Paris Cullins, Jerry Craft, Christopher Duckett, Trevor Vonnie Eden, Corey Fields, N.Steven Harris, Jamal Ingle, Carl Kent, Alitha E. Martinez, Khary Randolph, Sha-Nee Williams, and many more.
Admission is free.
Fiction by Black Writers: Who Are the Readers?

Tuesday, February 21 at 6:30 pm

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Does black literature really lack marketability? Author Elizabeth Nunez sits down with Essence book editor Patrik Henry Bass, Random House publisher Chris Jackson, president of the Authors’ Guild Roxana Robinson and editorial director at Akashic Books Ibrahim Ahmad to dissect this assumption.

Admission is $10. If you would like to reserve your ticket, click here.

Art Inspired By…An African Artist

Wednesday, February 22 at 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center 
232 W. 60th St.
New York, NY
Create your own masterpiece inspired by work from famous artists and various art techniques. The Art Inspired By series will include an overview of the artist or technique, followed by a hands-on workshop. This workshop will celebrate Black History Month with inspirational art techniques inspired by an African artist.
Admission is free. RSVP is required. If you would like to RSVP, please call (212) 397-3159.

 

 

Link of the Week: Making the Library of Congress More Accessible

A little over a year into her position as the 14th Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden continues to make content digitization and social media outreach of the Library of Congress priorities.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, filled with an impressive archive of magazines, books, and documents from the lives of prominent Americans dating back to its founding in 1800. Though it’s open to the public, nothing in the library may be taken out. To make library materials more accessible to the public, Hayden has doubled-down on continuing work with The Internet Archive in their ongoing efforts to digitize the contents of their library (so far they’re a little over 16 years into the process). Some of their most famous collections to be scanned online so far range from the Rosa Park Papers to the Abraham Lincoln Papers.

She also has made it a point to have more of a social media presence to include more people in what goes on at the national library, something new for a Librarian of Congress.

In a role historically given to white men, Hayden is the first black woman to be the Librarian of Congress, something that has given her the title of “radical librarian”—though she thinks that a woman holding this position reflects the workforce (85% of librarians are women) and that “leading the largest symbol of knowledge in the world is quite momentous” as a black woman when black people have historically been denied the right to read and were punished for doing so. Hayden’s achievements and dedication to this prestigious job is something she hopes will inspire black children that they can succeed in any area they feel passionate about.

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“Change requires intent and effort. It really is that simple.”

Roxane Gay, “Beyond the Measure of Men,” Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay is an essayist, writer, editor, public speaker, and professor. Gay has made a name for herself for her exemplary essay collections on feminism, namely works she featured in Bad Feminist. Some of her other works are fiction novels An Untamed State and short story collection Difficult Women.

Gay is also one of the writers for Marvel’s comic series Black Panther: World of Wakanda along with poet Yona Harvey, and together they are the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel.

In between books and tours, Gay shares her poetry, links various works,and shares her thoughts on a wide array of topics on her personal blog.

Honoring Coretta Scott King

American social, political, civil and human rights activist Coretta Scott King dedicated her life to protesting and speaking out against racism and discrimination. Alongside with her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., she was able to solidify herself as a role model for black rights and equal opportunities. Some of Ms. King’s most famous civil rights work in America included being involved with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helping to pass the Civil Rights Act. She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in honor of her husband and their shared philosophies.

Throughout her life, Ms. King also brought awareness to social issues by contributing articles, news columns, and other related writings to and for the public. Recently, a letter she wrote in 1986 has been featured in the news. You can read the letter in its entirety here.

Another notable work by Ms. King is her memoir, My Life, My Love, My Legacy.

She also wrote about Dr. King’s relationship with her, their children, his historic moments, and other related insights in My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Link of the Week: 12-Year-Old Founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks Gets Book Deal

Scholastic announced that they will be publishing a book by and about activist Marley Dias, the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks.

What started as a passion project fueled by the disappointment with the lack of black female protagonists in books read in classes, Dias’s mission of finding 1000 books starring black girls in children’s literature has expanded to a social movement. Having collected over 8,000 books so far with black female main characters—well beyond her initial goal of 1,000 titles—Dias continues to use her voice to gather book titles that let black girls have heroes to look up to that she couldn’t find in school books.

Scholastic shares that Dias’s book will be about how she was able to take her dream and make it into a reality, and provides tips and lessons to motivate other children into working to make their own aspirations into a reality. She is also thrilled about working with Scholastic, saying they are “the perfect partner for spreading my message of diversity, inclusion and social action.”