June and July hold annual reminders of the history of independence and freedom in the United States. See our staff recommendations that will give you a variety of perspectives on pivotal events that have shaped our views.

July 4, 1776
Independence Day

Independence Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The declaration announced the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain. The declaration says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

January 1, 1863
Emancipation Proclamation

But for America’s Black population, these words did not apply. They remained enslaved for nearly 100 more years until US President Abraham Lincoln declared in the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 that “All persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.

June 19, 1865
Juneteenth

It took more than two years for this news of independence and freedom to travel throughout the country. On June 19, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and declared “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Juneteenth reminds us that the process of ending slavery, of extending independence and freedom to everyone, was not a single moment in time, but multiple moments.

In his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. referenced this ongoing fight for freedom “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

July 2, 1964
Civil Rights Act

It took another 100 years for President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act in 1964 outlawing racial discrimination in the United States. The process continues to this day.

President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. “By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel.” He continue “After all, the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality; it only marked the beginning. To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet.

Slave Narratives: The Stories that Abolished Slavery

Today slave narratives are seen as first person stories about one of the darkest times in United States history, but when slave narratives were being published in the 1800s they were a powerful tool used in the fight for their own freedom. Through their stories they were able to contradict the slaveholders’ favorable claims concerning slavery. Through these narratives they could tell the horrors of family separation, the sexual abuse of black women, and the inhuman workload. The narratives helped show the humanity of the most dehumanized people in the country.

Title - Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassTitle - The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah EquianoTitle - Twelve Years A SlaveTitle - William Wells Brown

    Picture Book Stars to Celebrate Independence & Freedom

    Learn about the 4th of July, Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment, and more! Read stories about family and neighborhood traditions all over the country from parades to fireworks to noodles to pie. #indyplkids

    Title - The Night Before FreedomTitle - Revolutionary Prudence WrightTitle - Her Name Was Mary KatharineTitle - Let

    Photograph of Frederick Douglass.

    Hoosiers Reading Frederick Douglass Together

    The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities started the program, Reading Frederick Douglass Together, to encourage families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to gather to read and discuss “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglas to help shape our understanding of freedom in American.

    Douglass first gave the speech on July 5, 1852 at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln would not issue the Emancipation Proclamation until 1863 and the 13th amendment that freed enslaved people did not pass until 1865, so he delivered this speech well before either of those milestones. His words in The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro, continue to resonate with Black citizens after more than 150 years for pointing out at the time that not all were free. The speech says in part,

    “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked them, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?”

    Resources

    If you are unable to attend a reading, you can find the text here. There is a printable tip sheetdiscussion guide, and page of helpful resources. In addition, we invite you to explore Indiana University School of Liberal Arts’ Frederick Douglas Papers or watch this short video of five descendants of Frederick Douglass read excerpts from his famous speech which asks all people to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.

    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818 but then grew up to became a human rights activist, gifted public speaker and author. He also started a newspaper, was a U.S. Marshal, and at the 1888 Republican National Convention became the first African American to receive a vote for President of the United States at a major party’s convention. (Benjamin Harrison, from Indianapolis, went on to win the presidency in 1889.) He lectured on civil rights and abolition and also supported Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony in their fight for women’s suffrage. He published his first autobiography (he wrote three altogether) called Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in 1845. It it the first hand account of his childhood as a slave. You can read it here.

    More Reading:


    Visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library to find and check out books that affirm and celebrate the Black experience.

    The CBLC includes a section just for kids. Every book taken off the shelf, both fiction and non-fiction, features Black characters or historical and contemporary people that highlight the Black experience, history, or biography.

    The Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library

    The Central Authors Engraving Project – Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was an extraordinary leader and abolitionist who escaped slavery to become one of the greatest orators in modern history and was instrumental in the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Check out the items on the following list by or about Dougalss to learn more about this great man.

    Title - Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassTitle - My Bondage and My FreedomTitle - Life and Times of Frederick DouglassTitle - The Heroic SlaveTitle - Frederick DouglassTitle - Frederick DouglassTitle - Frederick DouglassTitle - Frederick Douglass

    June 19th is Juneteenth, a day set aside to commemorate the day Texas slaves first learned about emancipation. More than two years after President Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation! Union army general Gordon Granger made the announcement in Galveston on June 19, 1865. His announcement made Texas the last state to hear the news. Juneteenth is a crucial piece of the complex series of announcements, documents, and events that lead to the passage of the 13th amendment.

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Juneteenth National Independence Day is a United States federal holiday. It was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday June 17, 2021. Listen to Opal Lee, the activist known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” reflect on her efforts that are credited with the day being officially recognized. In 2017 at the age of 89 Lee walked from Fort Worth to Washington D.C. to call attention to her quest. To learn more about Opal check out Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free.

    Annual Indy Book Fest & Juneteenth Celebration

    The Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) hosts an annual Juneteenth celebration at Central Library. The event will take place Saturday, June 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    This year’s author presentation is showcasing African Americans & the Arts. We will be asking our authors to highlight works inspired by different representations of art in the African American community. The day will include performances by Poet Laurent Januarie York, a feature film showing from IU Bloomington Black Film Center & Archive, African Drumming by Siteaw Inc, a music performance by Jamie Johnson, DJN4Red, and a Photo 360 photobooth.

    Our featured speaker will be NY Times Bestselling & USA Today top 100 Author JaQuavis Coleman who will come and talk about his new book, answer a few Q&A, and have an hour for book signing and purchases

    Remembering the History of Emancipation

    In the NPR interview What the Emancipation Proclamation Didn’t Do, Lonnie Bunch III, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History, said the following about remembering the history of emancipation:

    “Well, I think that on a very specific notion, I would love people to realize that African-Americans were agents in their own liberty. I think that that’s an important piece, rather than simply the notion, if you look at the movie “Lincoln,” it seems as if Lincoln freed the slaves, rather than it’s part of a complicated nuanced puzzle that led to emancipation.

    But, I think the other part that’s so important to me about this moment is this is a moment for Americans to remember that you can believe in a change that you can’t see. That the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was something that everybody knew was going to exist forever except for a few fanaticals. But suddenly the Emancipation Proclamation began America on a trajectory that ultimately led to a fundamental change in citizenship and equality. And so what I hope is that people would realize that they have a right to demand and effect change because change is possible in this country.”

    Learn more about Juneteenth

    Watch:

    • Our streaming service called Kanopy has a curated collection of films that commemorate Juneteenth. If you have never borrowed from Kanopy before directions and a video tutorial are available.
    • Watch the online exhibition Slavery & Freedom from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History. It highlights stories behind some of the museum’s most compelling objects.
    • Blacks and the Vote This online discussion from the CBLC includes the importance of voting, inspired poetry from local performers, and a moderated panel discussion about what voting means in today’s America.

    Listen:

    Read:

    Take a Deeper Dive:

    The Juneteenth Table: Putting the Twist on Tradition

    Celebrate Juneteenth with culinary creations, both traditional and modern! Each title contains recipes that call back to African heritage, African-American history, and long-held traditions of eating red foods for health, happiness, and celebration. Add something new to your Juneteenth table with these delicious offerings below. Happy Cooking!

    Title - Watermelon & Red BirdsTitle - My AmericaTitle - Ghetto Gastro Black Power KitchenTitle - Black Food

    May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. According to the Pew Research Center, “Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics.”

    Heritage months like this one are annual reminders to acknowledge the experiences of various marginalized people and to elevate their contributions that are too often ignored. These months are also celebrations of their culture. This year, you can use this time to immerse yourself in the diverse histories, cultures, and traditions of people of Asian-Pacific ancestry.

    Graphic Novel Memoirs Featuring Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors

    A memoir is a narrative book, written from the perspective of the author, that tells about a particular portion of their life. Memoirs give individual perspective and share what a person felt during a particular experience. A memoir may or may not begin in childhood as an autobiography often does, whose purpose spans the author’s life time. Memoirs instead focus on a particular moment or influential experience that has shaped the author. Memoirs create empathy and understanding at a deeper level beyond the facts. The story is told as the author remembers it. The author is the only one who can tell the story. Our staff have selected several graphic novel memoirs to recommend during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month.

    For even more reading ideas see our guide to Finding Books by Asian and Pacific Islander Authors.

    American Born Chinese by Gene Luen

    American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is made up of three seemingly unrelated stories blending modern day issues with a beautiful old Chinese myth to tell a story about racism, identity, and acceptance. It won the 2007 Best Book Award from The Chinese American Librarians Association, the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award, and the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. In addition, it was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award. IndyPL_KristenF

    The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

    In the graphic novel memoir The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui tells the story of her family, starting with the birth of her son and then working back in time. She chronicles the lives of her parents through the ever shifting turmoil in Vietnam and their escape to the United States. Through it all, she questions whether or not she will be as strong as her parents and if she is worthy to even be a parent. Bui’s book was an American Book Award winner, a National Book Critics Circle finalist in autobiography, and an Eisner Award finalist in reality-based comics. IndyPL_MarianneK

    They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

    Finally, you may know George Takei from his performance as Sulu on the TV show Star Trek and from his wonderful social media presence. What you might not now is that when he was a child during World War II Takei spent time in an internment camp for people of Japanese descent. Takei sheds light on this dark part of American history in his emotional memoir They Called Us Enemy. It’s a story of legalized racism, the love of family, and perseverance. Takei’s book won the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award, the 2020 American Book Award, and the 2020 Eisner Award. IndyPL_KristenF

    Browse More Asian American Memoirs

    This is a list of memoirs celebrates the unique and varied voices of Asian American authors. It provides representation for the different countries and cultures that make up the Asian American experience.

    Title - Beautiful CountryTitle - Biting the HandTitle - Crying in H MartTitle - Eat A Peach

    Movies

    Set aside an evening or two to enjoy a movie feature from one of our streaming movie services. Kanopy features collections of Chinese CinemaIndian CinemaJapanese CinemaKorean Cinema, and Thai Cinema. In addition, Hoopla feature an Asian Cinema collection.

    Poetry

    Enjoy the online National Poetry Foundation portal Asian American Voices in Poetry. This collection is intended to introduce readers to Asian American poets. Simply click on a poet’s name to learn about them and read selections of their work.

    Online Sources

    Yamato hasedera digital file from original print

    To take a deep dive online, visit the PBS site, Ancestors in the Americas, which provides a comprehensive list of resources related to Asian American heritage or explore this comprehensive web portal that is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    For a look at local history, explore the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis articles featuring ChineseFilipinoJapanese and Asian Indian histories in Indianapolis. You can also browse the Indianapolis Sister Cities International Digital Collection which features the Sister Cities Taipei, Taiwan, and Hangzhou, China and Hyderabad, India.

    Especially for Kids

    Enjoy these online read alouds featuring stories by Grace LinDemiJi-li JiangVirginia Loh-HaganMinh , and more. You can also listen to stories read aloud in Mandarin brought to you be Scholastic Treasures.

    To find even more great titles for kids, children’s book author Linda Sue Park has created and manages a site called KiBooka that highlights kids’ books by Korean Americans.

    title - Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragontitle - Amy Wu and the Perfect Baotitle - Cora Cooks Pancittitle - Danbi Leads the School Paradetitle - Drawn Togethertitle - The Empty Pottitle - Eyes That Kiss in the Cornerstitle - Ling & Tingtitle - Ling & Tingtitle - Lotus & Feathertitle - 'Ohana Means Familytitle - PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Yeartitle - The Sound of Silence

    In 1987, Congress declared March National Women’s History Month. These resources shine a light on contributions and accomplishments, uncover untold stories, and help us learn how perseverance, strength, and persistence prevailed in the face of discrimination. In spite of centuries of obstacles women have made a profound impact on history and continue to shape contemporary society.

    These books, videos, and online resources provide an engaging look back at the women who have come before, women today, and a hopeful look forward to the possibilities of the female changemakers and leaders to come.

    Women’s History Month Reading Recommendations from Library Staff

    The staff at IndyPL create book lists all year to help readers find just the right book. From female entrepreneurs to politicians to information about women’s heart health, here are several booklists that highlight women. You can browse all of our book lists featuring women for adultsteens and kids.

    Women’s Hoops: The Essential Reading List

    NCAA tournament season is almost upon us, and the WNBA opener is on the horizon. Get amped for all the action to come with new and classic reads about women’s basketball.

    Title - Hoop MusesTitle - Full-court QuestTitle - Inaugural Ballers : the True Story of the First U.S. WomenTitle - Dear Black Girls

    Women and Girls Make Amazing Music!

    These compelling documentaries shed light on the lives and careers of women and girls working in a range of genres and musical settings.

    Title - Sisters With TransistorsTitle - Tokyo idolsTitle - FannyTitle - Joan Baez

    Women Make Amazing Art!

    Invite the budding young artists in your life to explore art by women from around the planet!

    Title - The Life and Art of Ningiukulu TeeveeTitle - We Are ArtistsTitle - Through GeorgiaTitle - Faith Ringgold

    Women in Higher Education – United States

    It took 200 years after the establishment of Harvard College before women had access to college education in the United States. Now many preside over institutes of higher learning. This list highlights history, important figures, areas of study, and current issues related to women in higher education, both nationally and locally.

    Title - 37 WordsTitle - The ExceptionsTitle - SpeechifyingTitle - When Will the Joy Come?

    Womanism Past and Present

    Womanism, first coined by Alice Walker in her book “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens Womanist Prose,” takes the concept of feminism a step further to include Black women and other women of color. Alice’s Womanism theory can be defined in part as “A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility … and women’s strength. … Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health … Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit … Loves struggle. Loves the folk. Loves herself. Regardless. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.”

    Title - In Search of Our MothersTitle - Black Feminist ThoughtTitle - Sensuous KnowledgeTitle - All the Black Girls Are Activists

    Women in Comedy

    These diverse women are making history as comedians and as authors. Read their stories to get know the women that make us laugh.

    Title - Leslie F*cking JonesTitle - Legitimate KidTitle - Hello, Molly!Title - Ten Steps to Nanette

    Josei or Women’s Manga

    Check these titles out if you are looking for mature stories that center an older female audience. Josei covers genres from mysteries to slice of life romances to psychological horror – so you’re bound to find something for everyone! Please note that these titles will be found in both our adult and teen sections due to age-rating standards varying between Japan and the United States. I have indicated on each title whether it is found in the teen or adult section of the library.

    Title - Blank CanvasTitle - ChihayafuruTitle - DonTitle - Even Though We

    e-Books & Streaming

    Several of our e-book and streaming platforms have collections specifically highlighting women.

    You can download e-books or audiobooks, stream films, documentaries, and television shows free with your IndyPL library card. Detailed information about each of our services is available on our download and stream page. If you have never used our streaming services before, directions are available:

    Need more help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text or email Ask-a-Librarian. The Tinker Station helpline at (317) 275-4500 is also available. It is staffed by device experts who can answer questions about how to read, watch and listen on a PC, tablet or phone.

    Websites & Online Portals

    If you only have a minute or if you have the whole month, you can read, watch, or listen to fascinating stories about American women online.

    Female Healers
    This year’s Women’s History Month celebrates “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis is featuring Early Indianapolis women healers. Learn more about the women who have made history in the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis!

    #KnowHerStory
    These quick looks at history are perfect for learning about some exceptional women in a small amount of time. #KnowHerStory is hosted by The National Women’s History Museum.

    Because Of Her Story
    This is an online collection from the Smithsonian that includes stories and objects from women who have shaped America. Explore the online collection of artifacts and then read the stories about why the objects are significant.

    Girlhood (It’s complicated)
    This website is a unique look at women’s history from the perspective of young girls from The National Museum of American History. It explores the concept of girlhood and how girls have changed history.

    National Poetry Foundation
    The National Poetry Foundation provides this opportunity to read poems that explore women’s history and women’s rights by several female writing icons.

    Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.

    – President Gerald R. Ford, officially recognizing Black History Month, 1976

    There was a time in our nation’s history when learning about the achievements and good deeds of Americans included pertinent facts about almost every group of people living in the United States. The notable exception was people of color, and more specifically, African Americans. Present-day, during the month of February, we celebrate Black history and African American accomplishments, including contributions by our teachers, historians, lawyers, doctors, political activists, writers, engineers, dancers, athletes, musicians, artists, and so much more.

    Black History Month

    Portrait Carter G. Woodson
    Carter G. Woodson

    Did you know that observance of Black History Month began in 1976 back when President Gerald Ford was at the helm? Prior to this, African American history was actually observed during the second week in February as “Negro History Week,” which began in 1926. Negro History Week was the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson-PhD and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded in 1915 as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson reportedly settled on the second week in February because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (U.S. National Archives: Emancipation Proclamation) and Frederick Douglass (African American Civil Rights Activist). Learn more about Carter G. Woodson as well as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Several books on Woodson’s life and legacy for adults and kids can be found in IndyPL’s catalog.

    It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.

    President Barack Obama, 2016

    The Library has books, music, movies, and digital collections related to African American history. If you are in need of suggestions for what to check out next, here are some great ways to get started – re-read a classic or favorite, find out about an author you have never read, reflect on what you remember, or discover a piece of history you didn’t know.

    Attend a Black history program at The Library.

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    Visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library to explore our collection.

    The Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) is home to our largest collection of materials by Black authors. Take as long as you’d like to browse this collection that features authors whose work impacts local, national and global culture in literature, sports, business, politics, science and music. Also don’t miss the CBLC’s website, The Power of Black Voices. This online collection includes artifacts, photographs, and articles across many categories.

    Our knowledgeable staff and the resources available to you at The Library and online can help you get started from primary sources and portals to biographies, artifacts, photographs, and more.

    Center for Black Literature & Culture

    Share Black history with kids.

    If you are looking for Black history resources for kids, read through history by browsing our Racial Justice Timeline, 1954-1968. Listed here are important events of the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for racial justice. For each event a few books are listed, both fiction and non-fiction, that bring the events and people to life.

    Books written for children are also great introductions to history for adults. These selections designed for kids often include excerpts of primary sources, charts, graphs, and high quality photographs from digital archives. These selections make thoughtful reads for adults as well.

    Read Black authors.

    Here are six tips to help you find books written by Black authors, including a convenient clickable list of authors linked directly to our catalog for placing requests or checking out e-books or audiobooks. Find compelling history and historical fiction, biographies, and memoirs by both contemporary and classic authors.

    You can also get reading recommendations from our staff. Browse these featured recommendations.

    Explore Indianapolis’s local Black history by browsing through these online portals, digitized newspapers and documents, photo galleries, artifact collections, images, documents, and more.

    Digital Indy Archive

    • Crispus Attucks High School Year Books
      In 1927, Crispus Attucks High School opened its doors as Indianapolis’ first and only all-Black high school.
    • Black History, Indianapolis History
      Black history has a long presence in Indianapolis and makes up the very fabric of the city. Six years after the founding of Indianapolis, out of the 1,066 total residents 55 were African American (source). There is no history of Indianapolis without Indianapolis’ vibrant and diverse Black population.
    • Indianapolis Public Library African American History Committee
      Find information here about past AAHC events, lectures, and exhibits. View posters, programs, news items, and compilations of African American authors and illustrators.

    Encyclopedia of Indianapolis

    To learn even more about fascinating and inspiring black history makers, visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library. The Center is dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots.

    Local Black History – Indiana

    Indiana Historical Bureau
    Being Black in Indiana
    Highlights the Ordinance of 1787, Article XIII of the Indiana Constitution of 1851, and 1816 Constitution and the impact on fleeing enslaved people and black settlers in the state of Indiana.

    Indiana Historical Society
    Early Black Settlements by County
    Explore Early Black Settlements by County including the town of Bridgeport (Sunnyside or Westview), located in Wayne Township in Marion County.

    Indiana Historical Society
    Mark A. Lee LGBT Photo Collection
    Explore the Indiana LGBTQ Collecting Initiative and Digital Image Collection containing various oral history interview excerpts and photographs featuring some of our local Indy African American residents.

    Indiana Landmarks
    Black Heritage Preservation Program: Combating Erasure of Black History with Eunice Trotter (Slide Presentation)

    Indiana Memory Hosted Digital Collections
    Urban Displacement and the Making of a University IUPUI (1964-1990)
    “You will find correspondence related to property purchases, campus planning documents, assessments of home and business values, abstracts of title, oral histories, and a few items collected by administrators that show community discontent.”

    Indiana University’s Portal to Professional Education
    Indianapolis African American Heritage
    This is a self-paced FREE online course. Credit: None. If you don’t have an IU account, create a free IU Guest account to enroll in the course. The course content is offered under a Public Domain.

    Indiana Humanities
    Drag Resistance and Worker Solidarity on Indiana Avenue
    During the jazz era, Indiana Avenue became the epicenter of Black life for Indianapolis. Emerging research into this local history reveals a queer nightlife and culture moving through and amongst Indiana Avenue and Indianapolis’ Black community with visibility in the jazz clubs and city sidewalks just outside the clubs.

    IUPUI ScholarWorks
    The Female Impersonators of Indiana Avenue: Race, Sexuality, Gender Expression, and the Black Entertainment Industry (1911-1980s)

    National Trust for Historic Preservation and Indiana Landmarks
    Preserving Black Heritage in Indiana and Beyond with Tiffany Tolbert (Slide Presentation)

    WRTV
    Black History in Indiana

    Stories of Black Hoosiers living and working in Central Indiana: Clip highlights Lockfield Gardens.

    Local Black History – Indianapolis

    African-American Hospitals and Health Care in Early Twentieth Century
    Indianapolis, Indiana, 1894-1917 by Norma B. Erickson (2016): Study – Master Thesis: African American nurses, doctors, and images of African American hospitals (Ward’s, Lincoln, and Sisters of Charity) in Indianapolis.

    Hoosier State Chronicles
    Digitized African American Newspapers

    Indianapolis at the Time of the Great Migration, 1900-1920
    Originally published in August 1996 (No. 65) Black History News & Notes, a newsletter of the Indiana Historical Society. Highlights the movement of African Americans from the South to Indianapolis and the different infrastructure, job opportunities, residential segregation, and other inequalities they encountered once they arrived in the city.

    Indy Parks
    Pride of the Parks Honoring Black Culture Through Indy Parks
    List of parks honoring Black Indianapolis residents, contributions, and culture through Indy Parks. View the Pride of the Parks brochure.

    Indy Pride
    2023 Black History Month LGBTQ+ Community Spotlight
    Reflect on the contributions, challenges, and history of our Black and African American community members and celebrate the achievements of activists today who continue to lead, create, and envision a better future amidst the ongoing racism in our country.

    Invisible Indianapolis
    Race, Heritage and Community Memory in the Circle City
    Explore a brief history of African American doctors and public health in Indianapolis during the 20th century.

    A Neighborhood of Saturdays
    Highlights African American and Jewish community history on the Indianapolis Southside, redlining and I-70.

    The National Day of Racial Healing is on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation collaboration with the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation community partners. It is an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge racialized wrongs that have detrimental consequences. Racial healing is about repairing that damage and creating a more just and equitable world. Learn more about the Foundation and its work.

    “The National Day of Racial Healing is a time to contemplate our shared values and create the blueprint together for #HowWeHeal from the effects of racism. Launched on Jan. 17, 2017, it is an opportunity to bring ALL people together in their common humanity and inspire collective action to create a more just and equitable world.”

    Conversations about race and racism can be difficult and uncomfortable. Do you know someone you would like to talk to about racism but haven’t known how? Books have always been great conversation starters. You can help start a conversation on racial healing in your own family, neighborhood, workplace, church, or community by using these resources developed by the Foundation and their community partners.

    Conversation Guide

    Reading Lists & Book Discussion Guides

    Three themes are available from the American Library Association (ALA) for book clubs or group readings in a church, school, neighborhood, or family. Each theme includes reading lists and discussion questions. Here are the recommended titles linked directly to our catalog as well as a link to each theme to locate the corresponding discussion questions.

    Deeper Than Our Skins: The Present is a Conversation with the Past

    Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power

    Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age

    Recommendations from IndyPL Staff

    Just a few books for all members of your family with themes that can spark conversation with your community about racial healing. Together, we can bridge divides to transform our communities for our children and future generations.

    Title - Rising Out of HatredTitle - BiasedTitle - The Racial Healing HandbookTitle - Healing Racial TraumaTitle - AmericaTitle - StampedTitle - The Rose That Grew From ConcreteTitle - Born A Crime

    More Resources for Talking About Race:

    Talking About Race is an online portal from the National Museum of African American History & Culture designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture. The online portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multi-media resources tailored for educators, parents and caregivers—and individuals committed to racial equality.

    Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project offers more than 100 lists of multicultural and social justice books for children, young adults, and educators.

    EmbraceRace supports parents to raise children who are brave, informed and thoughtful about race. Their site has a variety of articles for parents and caregivers.

    WeNeedDiverseBooks has compiled resources from members of their community on race, equity, anti-racism, and inclusion. They offer an extensive list of resources for children, teens and adults including book recommendations, links to online articles, and a list of black owned book stores by state.

    Reading the words Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left behind, thinking about them and talking to others about them, is one way to honor him on January 15, 2024, the day commemorating his birth and legacy.

    Dr. King’s writings include not only books, but masterful speeches and many letters. Below is a selection of his books, his speeches and one letter, which is regarded as one of the most important documents of the Civil Rights Movement. These featured writing selections are available to you for reading or listening online, or for check out with your IndyPL library card. You can take just ten minutes to read a letter, 20 minutes to listen to one of his speeches, or several days to do a deep dive into one of his books to learn about, re-connect with, remember, or re-commit to his messages about community, equality, and social justice.

    “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

    ~ Martin Luther King Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968, delivered less than 24 hours before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

    Five Speeches

    I Have a Dream
    Delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. Read and listen to audio of his “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Our God is Marching On
    Delivered in Selma, Alabama after the march to Montgomery, March 25, 1965. Read or listen to audio of his “Our God is Marching On” speech.

    Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence
    Delivered at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967. Read or listen to audio of his “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” speech.

    The Other America
    Delivered at Grosse Pointe High School, March 14, 1968. Read his “The Other America” speech.

    I’ve Been to the Mountaintop
    Delivered in Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968, one day before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Read his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

    (More Fascinating featured documents can be found at the Stanford Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.)

    One Letter

    Letter From a Birmingham Jail
    Written April 16, 1963 from the Birmingham jail where Dr. King was held for participating in a nonviolent demonstration against segregation. The letter was written in response to a letter called “A Call for Unity” published on April 12, 1963 by eight white religious leaders of the South who took issue with the demonstration.

    Six Books

    Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958) Dr. King’s first book, it tells the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott from the early strategic planning to pushback from the white community to the eventual success of establishing a desegregated city bus service. print | print | e-bookaudiobook

    The Measure of a Man (1959)
    A collection of meditations and prayers written 10 years before the civil rights leader was assassinated. print

    Strength to Love (1963)
    This is a collection of Dr. King’s iconic sermons. print | print | print | e-book

    Why We Can’t Wait (1963)
    His argument for equality and an end to racial discrimination that explains why the civil rights struggle is vital to the United States. print | print | e-bookdownloadable audiobook | audiobook CD

    Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
    The book in which he outlines the trends in the African American struggle during the sixties, and calls for peaceful coexistence between the African American and white communities. print | e-bookaudiobook | audiobook CD

    The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)
    A collection of five lectures from 1967 that address racial equality, conscience and war, the mobilization of young people, and nonviolence. print | e-book

    Visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library

    You can check out Dr. King’s books and many more at the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC), a space at Central Library dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots. The CBLC’s collection includes specially selected literature, music, movies, and artwork highlighting the contributions of black icons, specifically those with Indiana roots.

    Black Biopics

    Biopics are films about historical figures and events. While directors and producers often take dramatic license in these films, at their core these films help audiences learn, become inspired, and share in the emotional journey of the characters. Below are biopics depicting Black stories and people.

    Title - RayTitle - HarrietTitle - 42Title - RespectTitle - King RichardTitle - Hidden FiguresTitle - SelmaTitle - The Woman King

    Books for Kids to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are 25 books for children that highlight Dr. King’s life and legacy fighting for justice.

    Title - The Words of Martin Luther King JrTitle - Only Light Can Do ThatTitle - AinTitle - Martin Luther King Jr. DayTitle - Martin & AnneTitle - MartinTitle - Threads of PeaceTitle - Good Night Martin Luther King Jr

    The Racial Equity Collection

    The Racial Equity Collection makes it easier than ever for Library patrons to access antiracism and social justice resources. The Library purchased thousands of new materials including books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, and Blu-rays. The materials span a wide range of genres, with titles suited for children, teens, and adults. See the collection online.

    Many American families gather for Thanksgiving, a day to share food, family memories, and gratitude for both. The arrival of early settlers and the colonization of North America is part of our shared history as Americans. It is important to learn and remember the full history of colonization and the reality that it included centuries of genocide, the theft of land, and oppression. As a result, Indigenous Peoples recognize Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. It is a time to remember ancestral history as well as a day to acknowledge and protest the racism and oppression which they continue to experience today. The following resources will help you learn more about Indigenous Peoples and Thanksgiving.

    National Day of Mourning

    Since 1970 there has been a gathering at the Plymouth rock historic site in Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day to commemorate the National Day of Mourning. The United American Indians of New England will host the 54th Annual National Day of Mourning on November 23, 2023. Watch their website for livestreaming information on that day.

    In this video from the National Museum of the American Indian, Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) co-curator of the exhibit Americans, looks at why the Thanksgiving story is so important to the United States’ image of itself as a nation. Watch it to gain a better understanding of Indigenous Peoples and Thanksgiving.

    Read books by Indigenous authors.

    In our collection, two notable titles about Thanksgiving are, for adults, This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman, and for children1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Margaret M. Bruchac (Abenaki) and Catherine Grace O’Neill. (For more resources for kids see Talking to Kids About Thanksgiving.)

    There have been a number of books published by Indigenous authors to share Indigenous perspective for both adults and children in a variety of topics. First Nations publishes a list of essential reading for anyone interested in learning about the Native American experience. To help you find these books in our collection, see our blog post Finding Books by Indigenous Authors.

    Many of us here – as Native Americans, avid readers, activists for improving Native American economies and communities, and as direct participants in the Native American experience – believe that we are uniquely positioned to suggest this reading list,” said First Nations President & CEO Michael Roberts. “We attempted to include many facets of the Native American experience, as well as books and research reports that would be of interest to a broad variety of readers.

    Take a deeper dive in our collection and online.

    Learn about the people whose land you live on.

    Native Land is an interesting interactive map. Enter your address and get an answer to “You are on the land of…” The map will tell you the name of the Indigenous People who once lived where you live. Besides curiosity, why would a person want to know this? The creators of the map hope to encourage discussion and increase awareness about Indigenous history and the diverse cultures of Native People. There is a teacher’s guide to go with the map which is also helpful.

    Are you looking for ways to share with children the importance of family, community, and gratitude? Or trying to make sure talking to kids about Thanksgiving includes giving them an age appropriate introduction to history? A wonderful book to share is Keepunumuk Weeãachumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer (Mashpee Wampanoag) and Tony Perry (Chickasaw). Learn the story of Weeãachumun, who asked local Native Americans to show the newcomers how to grow food.

    Watch this video to hear Alexis Bunten from the Bioneers Indigeneity Program share learning activities about sharing, valuing nature, and animal behavior. Alexis reads the story aloud, and then leads a discussion about talking to kids about Thanksgiving. A very helpful resource guide is available with all kinds of fun ideas to try at home.

    You might also try If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving by Chris Newell (citizen of Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township). It comes highly recommended from American Indians in Children’s Literature, a site that provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Read their detailed review to find out why the book is so highly regarded, like this analysis “There are many sentences and passages in If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving that I wholeheartedly welcome. Here’s one from page 8: “The story of the Mayflower landing is different depending on whether the storyteller viewed the events from the boat or from the shore.”

    Very young listeners might also enjoy Online Storytime: Thanksgiving to hear some of our favorite books to share in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Online Storytime will include experiences to talk, read, sing, write, and play. This makes fun stories and activities about Thanksgiving include important early learning skills!

    Make a selection from one of these lists to enjoy a rich variety of stories to add to your annual Thanksgiving traditions.

    Prayer Books for Kids – The Many Ways People Say “Thank You”

    Here is a selection of prayers and stories for children to explore the prayer traditions in their own family or those of their friends and neighbors. After sharing one, talk about the ways the characters in the story prayed, or talked about the things they felt thankful for. How was it the same as how you talk about gratitude in your home? How was it different?

    Title - A Family PrayerTitle - The Masjid Kamal LovesTitle - Salat in SecretTitle - A World of PraiseTitle - Standing in the Need of PrayerTitle - My Heart Fills With HappinessTitle - Sammy SpiderTitle - Thanku

    Books by Indigenous Authors for Young Children

    Learning about other cultures helps young children develop a better sense of themselves and the world around them. The books in this list are written by Indigenous authors, providing a look inside the traditions and values of their communities.

    Title - First LaughTitle - Fry BreadTitle - We Are Water ProtectorsTitle - Bowwow PowwowTitle - KamikTitle - Zoe and the FawnTitle - You Hold Me upTitle - Thunder Boy Jr

    Picture Books by Native Authors, Recommended by American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL)

    Add to your Thanksgiving favorites with these great books recommended by American Indians in Children’s Literature.

    Title - Bowwow PowwowTitle - Awâsis and the World-famous BannockTitle - First LaughTitle - Nimoshom and His BusTitle - ChickadeeTitle - KunuTitle - Whale SnowTitle - Fatty Legs

    Through 150 years of service The Indianapolis Public Library has continued to grow and evolve because of the dedication, patronage, and devotion of its communities.

    The Beginning

    In 1870 Abram Shortridge, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, called together a group of leading citizens to draft legislation that would establish a Board of School Commissioners to govern the public schools and a public library. The Indiana General Assembly adopted that legislation in 1871. The Indianapolis Public Library opened its doors for the first time in April of 1873 at the Indianapolis High School. For the next twenty years The Library would have five Head Librarians and three different locations. In 1893 a City Library building was finally built to be its home.

    Establishing Service

    Head Librarian, Eliza Gordon Browning, led many significant changes during her time as Librarian. The most significant change being the opening of branch libraries. The first five branch libraries were established between 1896 and 1897. Because The Library was governed by the School Board, one of the primary responsibilities of The Library was to provide library services to the schools. During the 1890s Browning established small collections at each school. At City Library she saw the children’s collections separated into their own spaces, story hours established, and a section for school reference created. In 1907 she opened the stacks and card catalog to the public. By 1909 she had forged a connection with Andrew Carnegie which resulted in five new “Carnegie Library” branch buildings.

    By the early 1900s The Library outgrew the City Library. The Board began making plans for a new Central Library by purchasing land. In 1911, after a land donation from James Whitcomb Riley, the plans for a Central Library were set into motion. Architect, Paul Cret, penciled designs for the new library from the trenches in France in 1914 during WWI. The new building opened in 1917 with a new Librarian, Charles Rush.

    Finding Purpose

    The Library underwent several fundamental changes in the 1920s including reorganization into departments, conversion to the Dewey Decimal System, and a promotional push to increase the use of The Library and its services. Cerene Ohr, Supervisor of Branches, made it a goal to have the circulation of adult materials be at least equal to that of children’s materials, strengthening The Library’s identity as more than just an extension of the Schools. In 1928 the new Librarian, Luther Dickerson, made his own mark on The Library and its services by promoting The library as an agent of social services and as more than just books. These attitudes led The Library to circulate more variety of materials, increase programming, and pursue efforts to establish The Library as part of the life of the community.

    Growing Pains

    In a post-war era, large population growth and expansion of the city created pressure to extend services that The Library could not staff. By 1945, when Marion McFadden became Library Director, The Library was ranked second in per capita circulation among cities of populations exceeding 200,000. To extend services The Library began Bookmobile services in 1952. In McFadden’s final report to the Board she emphasized that “for The library to truly serve its changing communities it will need to separate from the IPS School System”. This belief was grasped and forwarded by Harold Sander when he began his administration in 1957.

    Building a New Identity

    The rapid growth and annexation of Indianapolis in the 1960s was reflected in the growth and extension of The Library. The 1960s saw eight new branches established – more than any decade before or since. A Marion County Public Library (MCPL) was established in 1966 and the MCPL Board contracted with The Library to provide library services to county residents. In 1968 the Library officially separated from IPS and merged with the county library to form The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL). At that time the responsibility of providing library services in schools fell to each individual school.

    After separating from IPS, The Library continued to provide some services to both public and private schools, but the separation significantly impacted how and what The Library could offer. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s and the creation of the Shared System that a working relationship between The Library and Indianapolis schools allowed The Library to formally meet the library needs of schools. In 1972 Raymond Gnat was appointed Director and at his direction The Library increased operating hours across the system by 135.5 per week, with 112.5 of those at the branches. During Gnat’s administration, from 1972 through 1990, system-wide circulation doubled.

    Technology Leads the Way

    In the 1980s and 1990s The Library and its services underwent a major evolution in large part due to new technologies and formats. Card catalogs were removed and replaced in the early 1980s by Online Public Access Catalog terminals. In 1996 The Library implemented a public internet access plan by installing public internet computers at each library location, which for the first time also allowed the public to access online databases. Changes to collection practices led to the increased circulation of DVDs and when combined with increased public internet usage libraries began to include more space for computers and entertainment media. The early 2000s kicked off a digital era for The Library which began to provide more digital resources starting with online archives, and downloadable audiobooks and ebooks.

    A New Name for a New Era

    The 2010s brought another significant change to the identity of The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) when it was rebranded as The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL). Use of downloadable resources continued to rise and The Library began offering additional downloadable materials such as music, magazines, and video streaming services. With the addition of the Center for Black Literature and Culture, the Chris Gonzalez LGBTQ Collection, world language collections, and other specialized collections The Library continues to provide collections reflective of our diverse communities. In 2020 The Library continued to provide needed services through the COVID-19 pandemic with online access to digital materials and virtual programming. Since 2020 The Library has opened two new branches and has joined hundreds of other libraries across the country by no longer charging late fines.

    Thank you, Indianapolis, for your love and support of The Library.

    Learn more!

    For more history about The Indianapolis Public Library check out these resources:

    Made possible by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

    During the 1800s water jars or containers featured abstract designs of rain, vegetation and animals associated with water. This particular abstract design features parallel lines that represent rain and slightly coiled circles that represent a ceremonial drumstick. This Zuni storage jar is an artifact in the collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

    When is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

    Indigenous Peoples’ Day is the second Monday in October. It recognizes the resilience and diversity of Indigenous peoples in the United States. The day provides an opportunity to intentionally remember and learn about Indigenous histories and cultures. Not currently a national holiday, many American states and cities observe it.

    Isn’t that Columbus Day?

    Columbus Day, a natioanlly recognized federal holiday observing the life of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, also occurs the second Monday in October. In the last 40+ years controversy about the celebration of Columbus’ legacy, without including information about the harm caused to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, has steadily built. Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors the cultures, events, and stories that have been left out of our national narrative. Learn more about the movement to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Smithsonian article, Unlearning Columbus Day Myths.

    In this video, meet Artist in Residence at the Eiteljorg Museum, DG House (Cherokee of NE Alabama). Listen to a discussion about Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

    A number of books written by Indigenous authors share Indigenous perspective for both adults and children. We can help you find them!

    For Adults & Teens

    First Nations publishes a list of essential reading for anyone interested in learning about the Native American experience. They also publish a list for children.

    Many of us here – as Native Americans, avid readers, activists for improving Native American economies and communities, and as direct participants in the Native American experience – believe that we are uniquely positioned to suggest this reading list,” said First Nations President & CEO Michael Roberts.

    First Nations indicates on the list which titles are especially good ones to start with. Here are a few of their selections. See the full list. Explore our collection more at Finding Books by Indigenous Authors.

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

    “Eloquent, heartbreaking, and meticulously documented, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee follows the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the 19th century. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown’s work highlights the voices of those American Indians who actually experienced the battles, massacres, and broken treaties.”
    print | e-booke-audiobook | audiobook CD

    An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

    “Historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them.”
    print | e-booke-audiobook 

    Do All Indians Live in Tipis?

    “Debunking common myths and providing information about everything from katsina dolls to casinos and Pocahontas to powwows, Native staff members at the National Museum of the American Indian have handled a wide array of questions over the years. This book presents nearly 100 of their answers. This book counters deeply embedded stereotypes while providing an introduction to diverse Native histories and contemporary cultures.”
    print

    Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer

    “Treuer, an Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist, answers the most commonly asked questions about American Indians, both historical and modern. He gives a frank, funny, and personal tour of what’s up with Indians, anyway.”
    print | e-book | e-audiobook | audiobook CD

    “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

    “Dunbar-Ortiz shows how myths about Native Americans are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring Indigenous land and are tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance.”
    print | e-bookaudiobook 

    Indigenous Thought and the Environment

    The Eiteljorg Museum put together a list of suggested reading, listening, and watchingBrowse and place holds on some of their recommendations. You can also explore how the fight for climate justice and environmental preservation is tied to tribal sovereignty. From the removal of Indigenous people in order to create national parks to resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, each of the books in this book list, Indigenous Thought & the Environment, explores a different facet of a complex relationship.

    For Children

    Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo) began her website, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) in 2006 to make finding Indigenous books for children easier. Dr. Reese provides American Indian Children’s Literature Best Books Lists each year to help parents and teachers find great books for kids.

    Additional lists of best Indigenous books for children:

    Enjoy the video read aloud We Are Water Protectors read by the author, Carole Lindstrom (Anishinabe/Métis and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe). The book earned a 2021 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and appears on the 2020 American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) Best Books List. The book’s author, Michaela Goade, won the 2021 Caldecott Medal for illustration.

    Best Picture Books for Kids by and about American Indians

    A guide to some of the best picture books by and about American Indians recommended by The American Indian Library Association, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL), or firstnations.org.

    Title - We Are Still Here!Title - I Sang You Down From the StarsTitle - We Are Water ProtectorsTitle - HerizonTitle - Rez DogsTitle - The TrainTitle - Bowwow PowwowTitle - BirdsongTitle - We Are GratefulTitle - Fry BreadTitle - At the MountainTitle - Sweetest Kulu

    Beginning September 15th and continuing through the middle of October, it is Hispanic Heritage Month. Here are several ways you can visit The Library or use your library card to join in the celebration of Hispanic history and culture!

    Read books by Hispanic and Latino authors.

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    See our to guide Finding books by Hispanic and Latino Authors. Enjoy this convenient clickable list of authors linked directly to our catalog. Easily place requests or check out e-books or audiobooks. Find award books, check out an e-book or downloadable audiobook, and find reading recommendations from our staff.

    Choose a book written by an author whose writing is made unique and compelling by the ancestry they trace to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American or other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean. Read one, listen to one, suggest one for your book club, or read one to your child or class!

    2023 Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture

    Bestselling novelist and British Fantasy Award and Locus Award winning author Silvia Moreno-Garcia will be the featured speaker at our 44th Annual Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture.

    The lecture will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 28 at the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Tickets are free, but required. Learn more about event ticketing.

    Explore Hispanic history and culture.

    Use your Library card to explore the history and culture of Latinos. Explore hundreds of primary source documents like maps, images, audio clips, interviews, music, and more at The Latino American Experience.

    Receive an email newsletter featuring popular Spanish titles.

    Receive reading recommendations of recently added Spanish materials. Subscribe to our monthly Spanish email newsletter or view the most recent issue.

    Stream a movie with your Library card.

    You can also stream movies from Kanopy’s Hispanic American Collection. Kanopy is a streaming movie platform. It has movies and TV shows for all ages. You can borrow 20 Items each month from Kanopy using your IndyPL Library card. If you have never borrowed from Kanopy before here are some directions and a video tutorial.

    Begin learning or practice Spanish on your phone, tablet, or computer.

    You can take a self-paced lesson in Mango anytime, anywhere. Each lesson combines real scenarios and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions. Fun, interactive courses help you practice vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. Additional segments share an appreciation for cultural nuance and real-world application. Watch this video tutorial or learn more about Mango.

    What is Digital Indy?

    For those new to Digital Indy, we work with organizations across the city/county to digitize their materials showcasing the cultural heritage and history of Indianapolis. These materials are then made freely accessible and searchable on our website. With over 90 collections highlighting yearbooks, neighborhoods, city services, arts, and communities, there is something for everyone!

    A Multi-Year Digital Archiving Initiative

    This year Digital Indy launched a multi-year digital archiving project featuring each of The Indianapolis Public Library’s Branches. In 2023 Digital Indy focused on the history of four branches: Haughville, Martindale-Brightwood, Eagle, and East 38th Street. These four branches highlight two major periods of development for The Indianapolis Public Library system: the addition of library services outside of the main library at the turn of the 20th century and the need for increased services due to population growth and city expansion after World War II.

    By the end of the year Digital Indy will have digitized more than 15,000 pages relating to the history of the IndyPL Branches, all of which are being added to The Indianapolis Public Library Digital Collection. In addition, Digital Indy will present a unique history program at each of these four branches during the months of September and October.

    • Event: One State / One Story: “All That She Carried” by Tiya Miles
    • Date & Time: Saturday, June 15, 11:45am
    • Location: Central Library
    • Description: Explore a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. “All That She Carried” honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so.
    • No Registration Required.
    • Event: One State / One Story: “All That She Carried” by Tiya Miles
    • Date & Time: Monday, June 24, 6:30pm
    • Location: Eagle Branch
    • Description: Explore a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. “All That She Carried” honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so.
    • No Registration Required.
    • Event: One State / One Story: “All That She Carried” by Tiya Miles
    • Date & Time: Monday, July 08, 6:30pm
    • Location: Online
    • Description: Explore a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. “All That She Carried” honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so.
    • Register Here

    The First Four Stories

    Portrait of Eliza Gordon Browning, Head Librarian from 1892-1917.
    Portrait of Eliza Gordon Browning, Head Librarian from 1892-1917.

    Indianapolis Public Library branches have existed since 1896 when Library Director, Eliza Gordon Browning, recognized and prioritized the need for access to the public library beyond a single central location. Two of the oldest branches still operating in our library system are Haughville, which was one of the first four branches that opened in 1896, and Martindale-Brightwood, which opened in 1901 as the sixth branch. Of the original four branches opened in 1896, Haughville is the only one remaining, making it the oldest in the system.

    Since opening in 1873, IndyPL operated as part of IPS. As demographics changed drastically in Indianapolis during the 1940s and 1950s, many community groups and leaders began petitioning and demanding library services be provided within their growing neighborhoods, which prompted The Library to expand its service area beyond the IPS district lines. The first of these resulting branches was Emerson, now East 38th Street, which opened in 1957 as the only library branch to open that decade. Eagle opened in a small shop in the Safeway Shopping Center (later renamed Eagledale Plaza) in 1960 and officially kicked off the decade that added the most Library branches to the system.

    Looking for More?

    This year marks the Indianapolis Public Library’s 150th Year of Service. Celebrate by taking a closer look at The Library’s long history. We encourage everyone to dig deeper and recommend the following resources for anyone interested in IndyPL history.

    Made possible by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

    Considered one of the most outstanding buildings in the U.S, Central Library opening on October 8, 1917. It became a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. A six-story glass and steel-framed addition opened in 2007. Both the original building and the 2007 addition included a unique architectural feature, the names of iconic authors and literary figures carved into the building’s litmestone walls. Of the 80+ names memorialized in this fashion, the original project included just five women and no authors of color. In 2021, due to major support from Michael & Adelpha Twyman, the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund, and Lilly Endowment Inc., The Library added ten names to improve representation of the world’s historical, literary, and artistic development.

    The Vision

    In 2021, Dr. Michael Twyman set out to develop a plan to include names on the walls of Central Library. “As a longtime Indianapolis Public Library patron, I brought to Library officials’ attention the omission of persons of color represented in the names engraved at Central Library. I’m excited to be working with them to address this,” said Twyman.

    Community Input

    To begin the project, The Library invited the community to suggest names via an online form and ballot boxes at Library locations. From the community suggestions, a committee selected names ten names representative of the world’s historical, literary, and artistic development.

    The Unveiling

    A public unveiling on April, 2022, celebrated Dr. Twyman’s vision. “The Name Engraving Project allows IndyPL to use our public spaces to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, starting with the addition of Black authors outside of the Center for Black Literature & Culture,” said Nichelle M. Hayes, IndyPL’s interim CEO. “By creating a space that celebrates the work of authors from the African Diaspora, we’ll reflect an authentic historical narrative of the world’s literary development.”

    Further Support

    The Library aims to add additional names of authors of color in the years to come. To provide further support for this project, go to “Give” at The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation to make an online donation. Please select “Central Library” when asked how to apply your gift. Put “ENGRAVING” in the notes box at the end of the form.

    Learn more about the ten authors added this year by browsing the authors’ biographies. We have also provided book lists for easy checkout of their work.

    Selected Authors

    Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

    Phillis Wheatley was the first African American author to publish a book of poetry in America. She was a slave at the time. Seized in Senegal/Gambia, West Africa, she was about seven years old when purchased on the Boston docks by Susanna and John Wheatley in August of 1761. Described in a contemporaneous account as being nearly naked, with “no other covering than a quantity of dirty carpet around her.” She was named after the slave ship that transported her.

    A domestic slave, Wheatley learned to read and write (including the Bible, British literature, Greek and Latin.) At 13 she published her first poem. By 1771 her work had brought her international acclaim. At 18 she gathered a collection of 28 poems but was unable to get the collection published in America due to being an African. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in England in 1773. A group of Boston luminaries, including John Hancock and Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of Massachusetts, examined her and signed an attestation that concluded that she had written the poems.

    Elegies comprise one-third of her canon. The poems that best demonstrate her abilities employ classical and neoclassical themes and techniques. Two great influences were the Bible and 18th century evangelical Christianity. The remainder of her themes can be classified as celebrations of America

    Wheatley was manumitted in 1774, married John Peters a free Black, and bore three children who died. She continued to write and publish but was never able to publish her second volume possibly due to the Revolutionary War and the poor economy which were particularly harsh for free blacks. She fell into deep poverty. Sick and destitute she died at the age of 31. Wheatley Peters wrote perhaps 145 poems, but this artistic heritage is now lost.

    Early 20th century critics of Black American literature judged her poetry for the absence of a sense of identity as a Black enslaved person. Until recently, her critics did not consider her use of biblical allusion nor its symbolic application as a statement against slavery. Recent scholarship has uncovered her association with 18th century Black abolitionists and her use of art to undermine the institution of slavery. See our Phillis Wheatley book list.

    Information quoted from an essay by Sondra A. O’Neale, Emory University, on the Poetry Foundation website.

    Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)

    Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was an extraordinary leader and abolitionist. He escaped slavery to become one of the greatest orators in modern history and was instrumental in the emancipation of slaves in the United States. His youth in slavery was particularly horrific, yet he managed to steal away time to learn to read. Douglass also managed to snatch what education he could, and share it with his fellow slaves, despite the threat of severe punishment. After his escape at the age of 21, he had a difficult time finding work until he was unexpectedly asked to speak at an abolitionist gathering. His harrowing story and captivating presentation garnered the attention of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. The Society hired him to go on a lecture tour of the northern United States. In 1845 he published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

    Douglass published a newspaper, the North Star in Rochester, New York. Its office served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. He campaigned for Abraham Lincoln and when Civil War broke out he encouraged Black Americans to become soldiers. He believed war was the only way slavery would be abolished. After the war he established a new newspaper in Washington D.C. and was appointed to different public service positions. Douglass advocated for the underdog literally until the day he died of a heart attack in 1895 – the same evening he delivered a speech to suffragists at a meeting of the National Council of Women. See our Frederick Douglass book list.

    W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963)

    W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) was a civil rights activist and scholar who believed in and fought for the intellectual, economic, and legal equality of Black people around the world. His passion and vigor that lasted into his 90s. He was the first Black American to get a doctorate from Harvard University, and his book The Souls of Black Folk transformed the civil rights movement in the United States.

    DuBois challenged the work and ideas of other Black leaders, such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass. He advocated for Black Americans to embrace their African heritage rather than working to assimilate. DuBois was a founding member of the NAACP and is considered one of the architects of the Black protest movement in the United States. He is widely considered to be the most influential Black thinker of the first half of the 20th century. See our W.E.B. DuBois book list.

    Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) 

    Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was a prolific poet, short story writer, lyricist, and novelist. He is perhaps best remembered for writing the line that inspired Maya Angelou’s memoir title I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in his poem Sympathy. Born to two emancipated slaves, he went on to create an immense body of work that has confounded critics and delighted readers for generations.

    Though he died young of tuberculosis at 33, he was one of the first Black Americans to gain an international following and to make his living solely by writing. During his lifetime he was loved especially for his poems that celebrate the complexities of the Black dialect of the time. His contributions to literature go far beyond those works. Though some critics feel his work romanticized plantation life, others feel he gave a voice to those that had not been heard before and opened doors for future Black creators.

    Dunbar started his professional writing career during his high school years in Dayton, Ohio. Despite the challenge of being the only Black student at his high school, he was well-liked by his peers and academically gifted from a young age. He had several poems published in the local paper, wrote the class song, and was class president. His first foray into professional writing after high school was creating a newspaper for the Black community with the help of his close friend, Orville Wright. The newspaper was not able to make ends meet however, and with no money for college Dunbar had to find work elsewhere, as an elevator operator.

    Working blue collar jobs never kept him from writing. He was well-known for crafting poems in his spare moments and was influenced by the dialect work of poets such as James Whitcomb Riley and James Russell Lowell. His first book, Oak and Ivy, he published with his own money but quickly sold enough to cover what he spent. This allowed him to start touring the country and meeting other poets, writers, and critics. His second book, Majors and Minors, gained critical attention and he soon became a near celebrity. Black and white audiences alike loved his work and he was the first Black American poet to gain an international audience – spending six months in England on a reading tour.

    On his return he went to work at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, but soon left to write full-time and to take care of his deteriorating health. He married fellow writer Alice Ruth Moore, and changed his focus from poetry to short stories, novels, and plays. In 1899 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. On advice from a doctor he medicated with whiskey, and his relationship with Moore suffered greatly. They separated in 1902, and he moved in with his mother in Ohio until his death in 1906. See our Paul Laurence Dunbar book list.

    Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

    Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, playwright, and anthropologist. She was born in 1891 and grew up in the small town of Eatonville, Florida. Eatonville was the first incorporated and self-governing all-Black city in the United States. Hurston’s passion for folklore began while hanging out by the town general store listening to stories told by local townsfolk. Her life in Eatonville inspired a lot of her work.

    Hurston’s love of writing began at Howard University where she published her first short story. Soon after, she moved to New York and began her writing career. She became close friends with Langston Hughes, with whom she would later collaborate on a play. Her essays, stories, and novels were celebrated as part of the Harlem Renaissance, especially her literary masterpiece “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

    While in New York, Hurston became the first Black student to attend Barnard College at Columbia University. She began studying anthropology with a focus on African American folklore. Hurston traveled through the American South, including to her hometown of Eatonville, collecting folklore. She was instrumental in saving these folktales and songs from disappearing over time. Hurston also traveled to New Orleans and Haiti to study West African Vodun, widely recognized as voodoo, and eventually became initiated in the religion. She published several books and essays about the folklore she collected, including the book “Mules and Men.” She also published the book “Tell My Horse” about her experience with voodoo in Haiti. See our Zora Neale Hurston book list.

    Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

    Born James Mercer Langston Hughes February 1, 1901, previously believed to be 1902, died May 22, 1967, from prostate cancer.

    Langston Hughes was a pioneer of modern black literature and a major voice of the Harlem Renaissance. His work reflected the life and struggles of Black America of the time and captured the dialect and rhythms of the people. He was a poet, novelist, journalist, and mentor to young writers.

    Born in Joplin Missouri, he eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that he began writing for his school magazine. After leaving school, Hughes worked odd jobs as an assistant cook, busboy, and launderer, while observing life in Harlem and working on his poetry. He had a brief job as a steward on a freighter that took him to Africa and Spain.

    Hughes’ first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published in 1926 to mixed reviews, but it was enough to earn him royalties and a sponsorship to finally attend Lincoln University to study poetry. His first novel, Not Without Laughter, was published four years later and won the Harmon gold medal for literature. He went on to write more poems, novels, plays, and his autobiography, The Big Sea. Through it all, his work continued to explore themes of the urban, working-class Black Americans of the time.

    On May 22, 1967, Hughes died from complications of prostate cancer. A tribute to his poetry, his funeral contained little in the way of spoken eulogy but was filled with jazz and blues music. His ashes were interred beneath the entrance of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The inscription marking the spot features a line from Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” It reads: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” See our Langston Hughes book list.

    Richard Wright (1908-1960)

    Richard Wright was a novelist, poet, journalist, and champion of social and racial justice. He is best known for his works chronicling the struggles of African Americans in the Southern United States. Wright spent his childhood moving frequently, first from Mississippi, where he was born, to Memphis, Tennessee, where his father abandoned the family. Escaping poverty and hunger, his mother took Wright and his brother to live with her sister in Arkansas. Over the next few years, Wright travelled back and forth between Arkansas and Jackson, Mississippi, where his grandmother lived. Despite the many interruptions to his education, Wright showed academic promise. From 1920-1925, he lived with his grandmother in Jackson, where he attended two schools. He published his first story at age 15 in the local Black newspaper, the Southern Register. And at his junior high school in Jackson, Wright graduated as the class valedictorian.

    In 1925, when Wright was 17, he returned to Memphis for two years. While there, he developed a passion for reading books and other publications, including the Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s magazine. In 1927, Wright moved to Chicago, where he would spend the next decade. While living in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and attended meetings at a Communist literary organization, the Chicago John Reed Club. During this time, Wright wrote poems for New Masses and other left-leaning publications. He also completed his first novel, founded the South Side Writers’ Group, and worked with the National Negro Congress.

    In 1937, Wright moved to New York and became the editor of the Daily Worker in Harlem. He wrote more than 200 articles in his first year there. In 1946, he visited Paris, France, and in 1948, he decided to move there permanently. While living in Paris, Wright became a local celebrity, befriended existentialist philosophers, and joined the Pan-African organization Presence Africaine. He traveled throughout Europe giving lectures and appeared on television and radio programs. Wright continued working on various literary projects in Paris until his death, in 1960. Wright left behind a body of work that included fiction and nonfiction, numerous articles and essays, and thousands of poems. See our Richard Wright book list.

    James Baldwin (1924-1987)

    James Baldwin’s early origins as a writer revolve around aspects of life including using his local public library. He once described his usage of The New York Public Library’s 135th Street Branch stating, “I went to the 135th Street library at least three or four times a week, and I read everything there. I mean, every single book in that library. In some blind and instinctive way, I knew that what was happening in those books was also happening all around me. And I was trying to make a connection between the books and the life I saw and the life I lived.”

    Making connections between books and the life he saw and lived is a good and reflective way to describe aspects of his writing. The people he knew, religion and the church, the discrimination he faced, the love he shared with men, the schools he attended, and his creativity all helped make Baldwin an important writer and observer of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, sexual freedom, and society.

    Baldwin started his life in Harlem, New York City in 1924. He took care of his family by working jobs to support them after his stepfather passed away in 1943. In the mid-1940s, he spent some time living in New York City’s Greenwich Village. He continued to develop as a writer with the help of mentors and fellowships. He wrote many of his works while living abroad over the course of multiple decades.

    Baldwin still spent time living in the U.S. writing and speaking about matters related to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and racism as a whole. He had some work published in the 1980s before his death. He continued writing up until his death due to stomach cancer in 1987. Those who paid tribute to him at the time of his passing noted that he experienced success writing fiction, nonfiction, and for the theater. See our James Baldwin book list.

    Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

    Maya Angelou was an American poet, author, and actor best known for her collection of memoirs. Born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4th, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson, Angelou spent much of her childhood bouncing between her mother’s home in Missouri and her paternal grandmother’s home in Stamps, Arkansas.

    Following a traumatic event in her childhood, Angelou chose to stop speaking for several years, fearing that her voice had the power to kill a person. By her own account, she used literature and poetry to help cope with the trauma and eventually began speaking again. At the age of 16, Angelou gave birth to her son, Guy Johnson, and became the first Black female streetcar driver in San Francisco.

    She spent the next 15 years working a wide variety of jobs to support herself and Guy. At times she worked as a fry cook, auto-body worker, dancer, magazine editor, and sex worker. She adopted the name Maya Angelou during a stint as a Calypso singer. ‘Maya’ after a nickname her brother had given her and ‘Angelou’ from the last name of her husband at the time, Angelos.

    In 1959, Angelou moved to New York to pursue her writing career. She joined the Harlem Writers Guild and published her first work and became active in the Civil Rights Movement working to organize fundraisers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She also attempted to co-found a civil rights organization with Malcom X.

    Interested in becoming a poet and playwright, she began writing her autobiography in 1968 after her editor, Robert Loomis, challenged her to do so. She published the first volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in 1969 and it soon gained national acclaim. She would go on to publish six more autobiographical volumes, in addition to several collections of poetry and a couple of cookbooks. Bolstered by her success, Angelou was invited to speak at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. She was a frequent fixture on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou passed away on May 28th, 2014 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she had lived since 1981. See our Maya Angelou book list.

    Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

    Toni Morrison is one of the most important writers of the Twentieth Century and is an American treasure. She chronicled the African American experience in her novels asking questions about race and identity. There is a lyricism to her writing detailing heart-breaking subject matter. Morrison’s writing received the highest honors for literature including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Foundation’s Medal, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In 1993 she became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

    She was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931. Her parents who had escaped sharecropping and racial violence in the South for opportunities in the North. They settled in a steel town on the shores of Lake Erie. Her family instilled in her a love of reading. Morrison recounts that her grandfather learned to read at a time when it was illegal for him to do so. Teaching African Americans how to read was forbidden. Morrison rightly surmises, “reading is a revolutionary act.” Being an avid reader, Morrison spent her childhood at the Public Library, eventually getting a job shelving books. Morrison admits she spent too much time reading the books instead of shelving them, and eventually moved to the cataloging department.

    After high school, she enrolled at Howard University, majoring in English and earning her degree in 1953. She continued her studies at Cornell University, earning an MA in 1955. She went on to teach English at Texas Southern University and then returned to Howard University. There she married, had two sons, and divorced. As a single mother, she moved to New York to become a textbook editor at Random House and became interested in developing a canon of Black work, helping to publish Toni Cade Bambara, Lucille Clifton, Angela Davis, and Muhammad Ali. In those days, Morrison recalls that she was not marching in the streets. Instead, she would do what she could from where she was, helping to publish voices and ideas of Black Americans, creating a record that would last.

    During her time at Random House, Morrison began writing her first novel, The Bluest Eye. Published in 1970, she explored the standards of beauty and childhood trauma, specifically asking the question, how does a child learn self-loathing? While working full-time as an editor, Morrison continued writing novels publishing Sula, Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby. In 1988, Morrison published her masterpiece, Beloved, which attained both critical and commercial success. It was eventually translated to film, starring Oprah Winfrey. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and has been hailed the best work of American fiction.

    In her lifetime, Morrison wrote 11 novels, as well as essays, plays, and operas. She also collaborated with her son, Slade Morrison, on several children’s books. Morrison joined the faculty of Princeton University, becoming the first African American woman to hold a named chair at an Ivy League institution. In 2012, she was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Morrison passed away August 5, 2019 in New York. Morrison famously said, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” See our Toni Morrison book list and our Toni Morrison book list for kids.

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    Recent events have produced frighteningly familiar fear and unrest due to a barrage of racist attacks on Black people around the country. We take a stand against the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon Reed and the many other Black lives that have been lost in our country.

    As a public service institution, we owe it to our community to be introspective and address inequities that exist within our organization. Additionally, we are committed to using our position to help those seeking knowledge on these subjects to find understanding.

    The Indianapolis Public Library has joined 163 (as of 6/2/2020) other public libraries across North America and signed on to the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Social Equity.

    Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Social Equity

    As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic, and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:

    • Eliminating racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies, and practices
    • Creating and maintaining an environment of diversity, inclusion, and respect both in our library systems and in all aspects of our community role
    • Ensuring that we are reaching and engaging disenfranchised people in the community and helping them express their voice
    • Serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community challenges
    • Being forthright on tough issues that are important to our communities

    Libraries are trusted, venerable, and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.

    – Urban Libraries Council (ULC) Statement on Race and Social Equity

    Our Commitment to Racial Equity

    As part of our commitment to the spirit and intent of this statement, we want to share some additional actions we have recently taken and are committed to undertake in the near future:

    • Evaluating through an equity lens partnerships and community engagement, staff development, hiring practices, programs, collections, services, messaging, and organizational policies and procedures.
    • Working to execute the full recommendations of findings from the City of Indianapolis Disparity Study and implementing policies with our Board of Trustees as a result.
    • Offering racial equity and implicit bias training opportunities to staff.
    • Suspending the accrual of all fines and fees until further notice.

    We recognize that we are in the beginning stages of addressing racial equity both within our organization and within our community. We acknowledge the work we must undertake to do more and to do better. We will work alongside our community to foster understanding and communication about systemic racism and white privilege and the deep impact they have had on all of us.

    The Library’s mission is to enrich lives and build communities through lifelong learning. We achieve this through sharing, curating, and fostering environments for our community to absorb and utilize information.

    We are compiling a list of books, websites, and resources to help the community process recent events, talk to children, and begin conversations whose goals are the actions that result in change and healing. We will continue to add resources in the coming days and weeks.

    Booklists and Resources

    To Learn More:

    For Sharing with Children and Teens:

    • Resource: We Need Diverse Books “Imagine a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.” We Need Diverse Books is an organization that promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
    • Resource: We Stories We Stories engages White families to change the conversation about and build momentum towards racial equity in St. Louis.
    • Resource: EmbraceRace Resources to help raise a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.