This February, KU Libraries celebrated Black history by inviting patrons to participate in an interactive display that asked them to contribute to a conversation about their favorite Black educators, authors, artists, and characters. We placed big sheets of paper on a couple of tables at Watson and Anschutz Libraries with prompts for patrons to respond to.
After about two weeks, every inch of these papers was filled with names of beloved and inspiring examples of Black excellence. We did our best to transcribe all of the names, and the full list is attached to this post. There were many names that appeared multiple times in multiple places. There were plenty of names that were unfamiliar to me, and it was fun to learn more about these people. I challenge you to do the same. Look for the name of one person or character you’ve never heard of before and see what you can learn about them. You can also search the KU Libraries catalog for resources by and about many of the people who appear on this list.
I love how full these papers became after such a short time. How many more names would we get if we left this list out all year long?
How can we celebrate Black history and Black futures every day?
The Spencer Museum of Art has created an exhibit showcasing artworks that are in conversation with this year’s KU Common Book Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. One of the key pieces on display is a lithograph by Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola entitled Birmingham (left, middle, right). Her piece entitled Uncertain, yet Reserved (Adeola. Abuja Airport, Nigeria.) featured in Rankine’s book in the context of a meditation on Hurricane Katrina.