For Decades, Black Librarians Have Been Vital For Black Advancement

Mychal Threets
Via PxHere
Adé Hennis
March 12, 2024

Viral TikToker Mychal Threets’ love for libraries and books is infectious, and he’s part of a long tradition of Black librarians who know the value of libraries to our people. For more than a century, Black librarians like Threets have fought for our freedom.  

Books surround us every day, filled with knowledge and inspiration that can uplift and elevate our people. For this, we can thank our Black librarian-activists. Here’s three interesting facts behind the history of Black libraries.

#1: Churches Were Our First Libraries 

After Emancipation, there were churches with Black leaders and members who encouraged literacy. Reading is one of the most important ways that we can empower ourselves.

#2: Louisville’s Western Branch Library 

Founded in 1905, the Western Branch Library, the first library for Black people in the United States, had an all-Black staff. It was also the only library in Louisville that trained Black librarians.

#3: Charlemae Rollins

 Charlemae Rollins’ advocacy for diverse children’s literature started in the 1920s and would continue for over 30 years. As the head librarian at the Chicago Public Library, she set new standards for children’s literature in libraries and had books with negative Black stereotypes removed from the shelves.

The impact of Black librarians cannot be overstated. From championing literacy to telling our stories to improving the library system, they prove that whenever we pour our love into something, it thrives. Imagine a world where we pour our love into each other.

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