Tuesday, May 01, 2018

May 1 Lecture at Central Library to Focus on Desegregation of Birmingham Public Library

Wayne Wiegand
What: Author talk with Wayne S. Wiegand about his book The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism
When: Tuesday, May 1, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, East Grand Reading Room
Cost: Free and open to the public. RSVP to Tiffanie Jeter at 205-266-3747 or tsjeter@bham.lib.al.us.
Details: The event will include remarks by Judge U.W. Clemon, Shelly Millender, and Jeff Drew (on behalf of his mother Addine "Deenie" Drew, whose activism led to the desegregation of the Birmingham Public Library in 1963). Light refreshments will be served.
Contact: Melvia Walton at mewalton@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3728

At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1, the Central Library will host a book lecture in which renowned national library historian Wayne A. Wiegand will share the fascinating story of young black heroes whose brave stands led to the integration of public libraries in Jim Crow southern cities such as Birmingham.

Wiegand (pronounced wee-ghund), will sign copies of his new book, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism, answer questions, and participate in a panel discussion featuring some of the protesters whose actions led to the desegregation of the Birmingham Public Library in 1963.

Wiegand’s book lecture is sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Patrick Long in memory of Patricia Long, librarian and educator. The event will take place in the Central Library, East Grand Reading Room.

Fifty-five years ago on April 10, 1963, Miles College students, (including retired radio broadcaster Shelly Millender, now 83, and former U.S. federal judge U.W. Clemon), staged a sit-in at the Birmingham Public Library. The library leadership agreed to end segregation in the institution, making it one of the few public facilities in Birmingham that was peacefully desegregated.

Wiegand has a chapter sharing details of the Birmingham sit-in in his book. He calls black activists who desegregated public libraries "Hidden Figures" and celebrates their contributions in his book. The Birmingham desegregation effort began in the summer of 1962 when a black woman named Lola Hendricks entered the Birmingham Public Library to check out a book. White librarians refused to service her and suggested she go to the black library branch in Smithfield.

Within a month she and others filed suit in federal court to desegregate Birmingham Public Libraries and all public buildings. A year later, violence erupted in 1963 when bombs planted by the Ku Klux Klan gained Birmingham the nickname “Bombingham.”

In the midst of the chaos, Birmingham SCLC President Wyatt Walker recruited a group of Miles College students, including Clemon and Millender, to try to integrate the downtown public library.

“Records indicate Shelly Millender was kind of the spokesperson for the group of blacks who entered the library on April 10, 1963,” Wiegand said. “That’s when the local photographer took pictures of the group after they entered the library and were sitting quietly at desks. The librarian must have called the police. The police came, but didn’t bother to arrest them.”

The librarian got a little unnerved and called a special board meeting the next day on April 11, 1963, Wiegand said. Due to concerns about the bad publicity police commissioner Bull Connor was giving Birmingham with his violent response to black civil rights protesters, the Birmingham Public library Board decided to quietly integrate city libraries during the summer of 1963.

On April 10, 1963, Miles College students, including Shelly Millender (pictured), staged a sit-
in at 
the Birmingham Public Library. The library leadership agreed to end segregation in the
institution, making it one of 
the few public facilities in Birmingham that was peacefully de-
Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History

“The fact the library became integrated peacefully in the middle of that violent summer is kind of lost on people,” Wiegand said. “It was the sole site of racial conciliation in the middle of a town that was hosing African Americans and turning dogs on them. The media, of course, looking constantly for photos and images that attracted attention, paid no attention to the integration of the Birmingham Public Library. So it kind of got lost in history.”

Wayne Wiegand, a retired professor considered the “Dean of American Library Historians,” is also author of Part of Our Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library. In 2017 in preparation for the current book tour, Wiegand wrote a guest column in the American Library Journal about what he calls the forgotten black heroes who risked their lives to desegregate public libraries.

His book highlights those who faced violent confrontations and arrests while seeking to desegregate public libraries in the South that had Jim Crow laws that legally created whites-only public venues. One chapter details the Tougaloo Nine, a group of black students from Tougaloo College arrested March 27, 1961, while trying to integrate the nearby Jackson, Mississippi, public library.

Wiegand hopes The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South gives the brave heroes who integrated an important American institution—public libraries—the recognition they deserve.

“What I hope is this can inform a number of people to recognize that public libraries had a role in the civil rights movement and there are certain systemic racist practices that are built into library practice in part because they have not come to grips with their past on the issue of race,” Wiegand said. “We hope this stimulates a discussion in the library profession about what they have done on the issue of race and reflect on that.”

Related links:
Full Wiegand interview by BPL PR Director Roy Williams

Judge U.W. Clemon Looks Back: Desegregating Birmingham Public Library, interview by BPL Archivist Jim Baggett

LSU Press webpage for The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Springville Road Library's Body Changers Helps Participants with Healthy Lifestyle

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Body Changers is a group of folks who meet every Monday at 1:00 p.m. in the meeting room at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

It was formed by a volunteer, working with a staff member, who wanted to promote healthy dietary choices and offer encouragement to people who are trying to manage their weight. Using the library resources, participants weigh in privately, then enjoy a short presentation on some topic related to cooking, exercise, food plans, shopping, and making healthy choices. Members of the group share success stories and even, occasionally, pitfalls and setbacks. Group members can take turns presenting a program, but it is not necessary to share; everyone is invited to come and listen. Sometimes outside speakers are brought in to focus on specific aspects of weight management. Members set their own goals and choose their own food plans, are encouraged to consult with their doctors before starting any weight management program, and celebrate each other’s successes.

Body Changers follows the Coffee, Conversation and Crafts program which meets at Springville Road Library at 11:00 a.m. every Monday, and many of the people in the first group stay for the second. Recent topics have been growing and using herbs to add flavor to recipes, interpreting food labels, the Ketogenic Diet, and portion control. No food plan or diet is recommended over another, but books on specific food plans are available for check out. Incentives are available for successful attainment of specific goals.

For more information, please call Kelly Laney at the Springville Road Library Adult Department, 205-226-4083. Visit the BPL events calendar to see dates for upcoming programs.

Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia

So many fun places to go at Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on 4/26! Some delicious stops include Moe's Bar B Que and Sky Castle. Tickets available at http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stop at Hattie B's during BPL's Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on April 26

Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on April 26—so many places to visit—so much free stuff! Get a free Taste of Lakeview at three stops along the way. Hattie B's will be serving up bacon cheese grits and medium heat chicken. Stay tuned for more sampling updates! #lakeviewtasteandtrivia

April 26 Personal Finance Program at Central Library Celebrates Money Smart Week

What: Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances
When: Thursday April 26, 2018
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: For more information about this presentation, as well as other resources related to personal finance available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3690.

Money and finances are of constant concern to most of us. In fact, money, or lack thereof, is always at, or near, the top of the list in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey. Although it is pretty much impossible to eliminate all the stress caused by financial concerns, it is certainly possible to manage the stress better. A good place to start with managing your stress is to develop a better understanding of the concept of margin in your personal finances. Simply put, margin is the gap between your income and your expenses, and, generally speaking, the larger the gap is, the more options you have in your financial life. The trick, however, is learning how to create, and maintain, a margin that is suitable for your lifestyle.

To learn more about increasing your personal financial options, please join us on April 26, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at the Central Library for a special Money Smart Week presentation, Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances. The presentation will be facilitated by Bobby Lake, a certified financial advisor and leadership coach with Stewardship Investment Planning.

Money Smart Week is an annual nationwide campaign aimed at increasing financial literacy and promoting better decision making on issues related to personal money management. This year, Money Smart Week will be held from April 21 to April 28.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Trivia Winners to be Announced at Sidebar April 26

Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia winners will be announced at the after-party at Sidebar on April 26! Earn bragging rights and a $250 Lakeview Prize Pack. Remember: you have to play to be eligible to win! http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

Make Friends and Win Prizes

Looking for a fun team building experience? Sign up for the Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event on April 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Preservation Week 2018

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

The American Library Association (ALA) has designated April 22-28, 2018, as Preservation Week. This is the ideal time to focus on the importance of taking care of precious family photos, letters, and scrapbooks. Simple steps like storing your important documents away from direct sunlight or moisture, removing staples or metal paper clips, using archival safe folders, and handling them as little as possible can go a long way towards keeping them safe for generations to come. Of course, documents and photographs aren’t the only items that need special care and handling. The ALA website has webinars and tips for taking care of textiles, toys, and even money.

In celebration of Preservation Week, join us in the Regional Library Computer Center at the Central Library for a live webinar on Tuesday, April 24, at 1:00 p.m. We will be streaming Preserving Family Recipes. This workshop focuses on how to take care of handwritten recipes (on sheets or cards), photos, and vintage kitchen tools. Led by archivist Valerie J. Frey, the session also encourages participants to “read between the lines” and learn what family recipes can tell us about our heritage. If you can’t make it on Tuesday, you can view this webinar and other preservation webinars from the American Library Association online at the ALA site.

The Preservation Section of the Society of American Archivists will be hosting a Twitter Conference dedicated to preservation on April 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern). Follow along using hashtag #PresTC.

Check out the links below for more preservation tips and techniques:
ALA Preservation Resources
Advice from preservation expert Donia Conn
The Society of American Archivists
Preserving letters and paper heirlooms (from the Minnesota Historical Society)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Vocabby’s World is Introduced at Several Neighborhood Libraries

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Vocabby's World participants learning about insects
Those of us who have been around children or have children of our own can more than likely concur that from birth to around age six, children are like sponges that soak in information from their surroundings. Therefore, these ages are a crucial time for exposing children to vocabulary and language development. Nourishing children’s language and literacy experiences early in life will assist in preventing later difficulties with reading and writing. To this end, a program that will help support the vocabulary building of preschoolers and younger is being introduced at three of Birmingham Public Library (BPL) branches.

UAB's Alys Stephens Center and McWane Science Center have partnered to create Vocabby’s World, an educational vocabulary program. The McWane Center has invited BPL to offer this program at the Ensley, Powderly and Wylam Library branches. The ultimate goal is to develop vocabulary, reading-readiness, and problem-solving skills through fun and exciting science and art activities. The program is free and open to children up to the age of five and their families.

At the aforementioned library branches, you will see Vocabby’s World integrated into storytime. Thus far, the children have been introduced to vocabulary, stories, and hands-on activities related to weather and insects. Advanced words such as nimbus, transparent, and opaque have been shared with the children. The words in addition to the engaging activities have been a great way to build a solid base of knowledge around the targeted concepts. While learning about insects one group was simulating bees pollinating flowers, a second group had a blast throwing cotton balls into a “spider web” made of masking tape to see if it would catch them (just like a real one would catch insects), and a third was putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the body parts of an insect.

Five Points West Library storyteller Fontaine Alison teaches children weather words

Vocabby’s World is providing resources and support for early childhood learning in several communities. Their initiatives will go a long way in helping children to reach their highest potential. Come and see Vocabby’s World in action during storytime at the Ensley, Powderly and Wylam Library Branches.

What Compelled Me to Write Murder on Shades Mountain

by Melanie S. Morrison

Author Melanie S. Morrison
On August 4, 1931, two sisters and a friend, all from prominent white Birmingham families, went for a ride on Shades Mountain. What began as a pleasant ride on a summer’s afternoon ended in the tragic deaths of Augusta Williams, 22, and Jennie Wood, 26. The sole survivor, Nell Williams, 18, later testified that a black man wielding a gun had jumped on the sideboard of the car and demanded they drive to a secluded wooded area. In the struggle that ensued, Augusta Williams was mortally wounded and Jennie Wood died later in a Birmingham hospital.

Later that night, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Birmingham police deputized 250 white men for what became the largest manhunt in Jefferson County. Dozens of black men were arrested and detained as far away as Chicago. Weeks later, Nell Williams identified Willie Peterson as the assailant. With the exception of being black, Peterson bore little resemblance to the description Nell had given the police. Peterson was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

I first heard this Shades Mountain story from my father who was a teenager living in the prosperous suburb of Mountain Brook when the murders occurred. These events proved to be a momentous turning point in my father’s young life, awakening him to the gross injustice that black people suffered in Jim Crow Birmingham. For many years, I retold the Shades Mountain story just as it was handed down to me. It was one way of accounting for the legacy of antiracist activism I inherited from my father. I have always known that my work as an antiracist educator was seeded by the stories my father told and the life he modeled for me. He became a pastor, but the work of dismantling racism was his deepest calling.

Two years after my father’s death in 2006, I read An Enduring Ministry, a biography of my father’s pastor and mentor, Henry Morris Edmonds, written by Marvin Whiting, former head archivist at the Birmingham Public Library. When I came upon six pages of single-spaced narrative in a footnote, all of it pertaining to the Willie Peterson case, I felt a rush of adrenaline akin to what archaeologists must feel when they unearth the precious remnants of an ancient city. Here in print were details of the incident that rocked Birmingham and proved to be so formative in my father’s young life. Whiting stated that he initially intended to include a detailed account of “this largely ignored event in Birmingham history” in the main text, but space and balance had prevented it.

Curious as to why a case of this magnitude had been largely ignored, I launched an online search for other books and articles about the Willie Peterson case. I was surprised at how little I found, in contrast to the preponderance of literature about the Scottsboro trials. More significant still, these sources revealed aspects of the Shades Mountain story that my father had not told us. He never mentioned that white vigilantes bombed black-owned businesses and fired shots at a group of black people who stood peacefully talking on a Birmingham street corner. My father did not tell us that the national NAACP and the Communist Party launched campaigns in defense of Willie Peterson. Nor did he mention that Willie Peterson’s neighbors stepped forward to testify on his behalf despite threats that their homes would be burned to the ground.

I doubt that my father forgot those parts of the story or chose to keep them from us. I suspect he never knew those things as a teenager living in his insular white enclave of Mountain Brook. Discovering these gaping holes in my father’s story, I became intensely curious about what else I might unearth were I to undertake a serious and sustained study of this case. In November 2010, I made my first field trip to Birmingham, compelled to learn more about the Williams/Wood murders and the organizations that sought to free Willie Peterson. I was driven as much by what my father did not tell me as by what he did.

During that first visit to Birmingham, spending time in the Birmingham Public Library Archives and seeking out people who might know about the murders, two things dawned on me with great force. First, I felt even more compelled to research and write about this extraordinary case. Second, I wished that I had begun this journey twenty years earlier. Almost eighty years had passed since the attack on Shades Mountain, and it was no longer possible to find and interview people who were old enough in 1931 to remember that event or its significance.

On numerous trips to Birmingham and other cities that housed archival materials, I sought to recover every newspaper article, editorial, letter, trial transcript, city directory, sermon, photograph, census record, map, and manuscript collection of the organizations related to this case. From the start, I resolved to write a historical narrative that would be true to primary sources and accessible to a wide range of readers. I vowed to resist the temptation to cross the line into fiction when writing about the thoughts and feelings of people in this book. Every quote in my book, unless otherwise indicated, can be traced back to a historical document such as a trial transcript or newspaper article.

Eight years ago, I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about the murders on Shades Mountain, the fate of Willie Peterson, and the struggle for racial justice in Jim Crow Birmingham. The more sources I discovered, the more convinced I became that this story has much to teach us about the social forces at play in Depression-era Birmingham and the courageous predecessors of present-day movements that demand an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and the criminalization of black men.

Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham was published in March 2018 by Duke University Press.

Melanie S. Morrison is founder and executive director of Allies for Change. She has a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a PhD from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She is the author of The Grace of Coming Home: Spirituality, Sexuality, and the Struggle for Justice and her writing has appeared in numerous periodicals.

Melanie Morrison will be at the Avondale Regional Branch Library on Tuesday, April 24, 6:00 p.m., for a talk and book signing for Murder on Shades Mountain. The event is free and open to the public, and copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event for $26.95. For questions contact Jim Baggett at jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3631.

Progressive Taste and Trivia

Make your way through Lakeview for helpful hints to our Progressive Taste and Trivia event. Taking place on April 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. with Brown's Bar, Lou's Pub, and Slice as just a few of the many participating establishments! http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recent Winners of the I Am BPL and Innovative and Cool Awards

Norman Griffin, BPL board member Dora Sims (accepting for Mevlia Walton), and Kary'n Davis-

I Am BPL Award
Congratulations to Central Library staff Norman Griffin, Kary'n Davis-West, and Melvia Walton (not pictured) for receiving I Am BPL Awards. Griffin and Davis-West were honored for being first responders to Mayor Randall Woodfin's call for volunteers to man the temporary shelters for the homeless at the BJCC and Boutwell Auditorium during extremely cold temperatures last winter. Melvia Walton received an I Am BPL Award for her work in bringing the UniverSoul Circus to the Central Library.

I Am BPL Award is a quarterly stipend awarded to Birmingham Public Library employees who promote the mission of BPL through their work and commitment.

Patricia Douglas, Christian Zink, coordinator Janine Langston (accepting for June Lancanski), 
and Dora Sims

Innovative and Cool Award
East Lake Branch Library employees Patricia Douglas and Christina Zink were nominated by their branch manager, William Darby, for their proposal to form a fiber arts crafting group to elementary- and middle school-aged children. The group will meet bi-weekly with the goal of teaching participants to crochet and weave. The prize money will be used to buy supplies for the projects.

Children's librarian June Lacanski (not pictured) from the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library also won an Innovative and Cool Award for her Game-a-palooza idea. This idea entails supplying the library with games that can be signed out by patrons of all ages to play inside the library. Within a span of six months, the games were signed out 360 times. The prize money will be used to buy more educational games for loan.

The BPL Board’s Innovative Cool Award program was established to encourage staffers to develop engaging new programs to generate enthusiasm and value for their library patrons.

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