Title

Buttressed Beliefs, Informed Action: Black Lives Matter, an Academic Library and Building Critical Community Discourse

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2019

Department

Library & Information Services

Language

English

Publication Title

Social Justice and Activism in Libraries: Essays on Diversity and Change

Abstract

Libraries are uniquely placed for improving how people interact with one another, providing reliable information and meeting spaces to help communities get to the bottom of the complex issues that affect their lives. In the United States, American society is comprised of an extraordinary diversity of ethnic backgrounds living ostensibly together, but its history continues to be a conflicted one, especially with regard to socioeconomic inequalities for African Americans. Since 2013, this conflict has, as of this writing, become most prominent through an increasing number of headlines reporting unarmed African Americans being killed by police officers, bringing to the forefront troubling questions and debates about both the American criminal justice system and the underlying conflicts permeating American society. Significant to the conversation have been the development of the Black Lives Matter movement and the subsequent responses supporting or decrying it. Despite the media coverage, opportunities for communities to productively address or even acknowledge these questions among their neighbors free of commercial or political motivations have been in short supply. In September 2016, I implemented a Black Lives Matter discussion program at an academic library, to provide undergraduate students of all points of view with such an opportunity, to come together on the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement as a community, through creative expression and research in a respectful, academic environment.

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