By Paula Glover, Forsyth County Public Library
February is Black History Month and your local libraries will host a series of events featuring authors, historians, guest lecturers, and even a filmmaker to commemorate the occasion.
I talked with Forsyth County Public Library Programming Manager Tracy Walker to learn more about the “Celebrating African-American History” series and what participants can learn about notable figures in Atlanta and around the world.
Higher Education and HBCUs
First, Getchel Caldwell, Senior Vice President, Institutional Advancement and University Relations at Clark Atlanta University, will visit the Post Road Library on Thursday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta and across the U.S.
Caldwell previously spoke about his experiences at Tuskegee University and opening The Tuskegee Airmen National Site and Museum at the library in 2018.
Walker says that library patrons “loved hearing Mr. Caldwell share stories about the Tuskegee Airmen and we’re looking forward to his return. His career has been devoted to serving HBCUs, so he has a deep understanding of their history and the ways those institutions impact students, local communities, and the wider world.”
Documenting the “Rumble in the Jungle”
Walker also says that Gnimbin Ouattara, Ph.D., will also make a second appearance at the library.
“Dr. Ouattara spoke during last year’s series on African-American history and shared his passion for filmmaking. Our staff and patrons were so engaged by his enthusiasm for the documentary that we made sure to schedule a screening of his film,” adds Walker.
The documentary, Ali, mbomayé, covers the “Rumble in the Jungle” between Mohammed Ali and George Foreman and will be screened at the Hampton Park Library on Monday, February 10 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Ouattara will speak briefly about filmmaking and his perspectives on that historic match.
Archives of Atlanta History
The Forsyth community is fortunate to have the Atlanta History Center within driving distance and it offers a valuable resource for exploring the history of Atlanta and surrounding areas. One of those resources is the Kenan Research Center, an archive of documents on African-American life in Atlanta in politics, civil rights, business, criminal justice, and sports, as well as life for enslaved African-Americans before and during the Civil War.
“Paul Crater, Vice President of Collections and Research Services at the Atlanta History Center, will discuss the history of the African-American community in Atlanta at the Sharon Forks Library on Tuesday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. and explain how the community can access the historical records in the Kenan Research Center,” explains Walker.
Afrofuturism Paved the Way for Wakanda
“Octavia Butler published dozens of science fiction novels and short stories and is considered the godmother of Afrofuturism, a term used to describe African-American themes in a modern technoculture,” says Walker.
Butler’s work paved the way for a whole generation of black women writers and inspired the creation of places like Wakanda, a place of advanced culture and technology as portrayed in Marvel’s Black Panther and Avengers films.
Melissa E. Schindler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Georgia, will discuss Butler’s contributions to science fiction at the Post Road Library on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Prefaces to Poetry
“In 1773, Phillis Wheatley published her first book of poetry–the first of its kind by any person of African descent in English. But it was a difficult path and infamous “Prefaces” were required to accompany her volume in order to convince white readers that this creative and intelligent African-American woman really existed,” explains Walker.
Ian Afflerbach, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of American Literature at the University of North Georgia, who is locally known for moderating discussions about race and American culture, particularly in literature will lead a discussion on the life and writings of Phillis Wheatley at the Hampton Park Library on Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m.
The “Celebrating African-American History” series will close with a second event led by Dr. Ouattara regarding his research on the American colonization movement to Liberia at the Cumming Library on Monday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Ouattara, a filmmaker, a Fulbright scholar, and Assistant Professor of History and International Studies at Brenau University, describes how a slave rebellion in Virginia gives birth to racial nationalism in America and led to the foundation of Liberia by the American Colonization Society. His presentation will examine the history of Liberia through two civil wars and its current position as one of the world’s least developed countries.
All Are Welcome at the Library
“We’re grateful to each of our guest speakers for sharing their unique perspectives and experiences with our patrons, but we’d also like to extend our thanks to the FCPL Friends & Advocates for their sponsorship of this series,” says Walker.
Each event in the “Celebrating African-American History” series is intended for adults and mature students and admission is free.
“You don’t need to register and you don’t even need a library card to attend. All are welcome to commemorate Black History Month at the library,” Walker adds.
For more information on these and other upcoming events at the library, visit the Events Calendar at www.forsythpl.org.
Paula Glover – Literacy & Culture Editor
Paula Glover is a card-carrying bookworm and that makes her a perfect fit for working in publicity and programming at the Forsyth County Public Library. She spends her days reading, writing, and experimenting with new ways to connect the Forsyth County community to all the great books and fun, free programs at the library. Paula loves learning and holds three degrees in business. She can also be found holding a book (or eBook!) nearly every waking moment; but, her favorite thing to hold is her young daughter while they read a story together.