Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Annals of Spite

The realization that the public library—idealized as a democratic place of learning and sanctuary, where the life of the mind was more ostensibly important than the color of skin—was not a haven for all was not new. As scholar Karla Holloway has written in Book Marks: Reading in Black and White, Black Americans knew that they had a “vulnerable relationship” to public libraries and found ways to “contradict the value that those segregated spaces explicitly assigned.” In 1925, NAACP Secretary Walter White mounted opposition to the establishment of a library science school at the all-Black Hampton Institute, reasoning that the creation of a segregated training program would only bolster an already segregated profession or create boundaries where they were being deliberately and incrementally torn down. A decade later, the American Library Association would be on the hot seat when it held its 1936 conference in the old Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia; Black participants were allowed, but were seated in their own section in meeting halls and were not invited to any events where meals were served....

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