Carrie C. Robinson

Separate—and Unequal

October 6, 2020

Born in Mississippi in 1906, Robinson began her career as a librarian serving Black schools in South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana before settling in Alabama, where she initially worked for Alabama State College as an assistant professor of library education. In 1947, she helped organize a librarian section of the Alabama State Teachers Association, a … Continue reading Separate—and Unequal


From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

Necessary Trouble

September 1, 2020

Lewis, who served as a US representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district for more than three decades, was a friend to libraries and to ALA, for which he was a frequent speaker. His late wife, Lillian, had been a librarian, and libraries played a major role in Lewis’s early activism. He often spoke about how, … Continue reading Necessary Trouble


US Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) speaks to attendees at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

Remembering John Lewis

July 20, 2020

In 2013, to mark the launch of the first book in his graphic novel series, March (cowritten with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell), Lewis was an Auditorium Speaker at the 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibition. Former American Libraries Senior Editor George M. Eberhart chronicled the memories Lewis shared at that event: “In 1956, … Continue reading Remembering John Lewis


E. J. Josey's 1964 Charge "Keep on Pushing"

“Keep on Pushing”

June 27, 2020

“E. J. Josey’s 1964 Charge: ‘Keep on Pushing’” charted the life of E. J. Josey (1924–2009), librarian, educator, author, activist, founding member of BCALA, and 1984–1985 American Library Association (ALA) president. The session opened with images of Black life from the late 1800s to the present and the American civil rights movement, backed by the … Continue reading “Keep on Pushing”


Lisa Rand

Keeping History Alive

September 3, 2019

Even in the 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement officially ended the conflict, sectarian tension and renewed violence have punctuated the hard-won peace. Journalist Lyra McKee was killed in April while observing riots in Derry. Conversations with my grandfather gave an immediacy to the stories unfolding across the ocean. In order to get a … Continue reading Keeping History Alive


20 Years of the MLK Sunrise Celebration

January 28, 2019

Virginia Moore, past chair of ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force, talked about the origins of the annual Midwinter celebration. “Libraries lead the way,” she said. “Keep the dream alive.” Satia Orange, former director of ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, reminded the more than 200 attendees … Continue reading 20 Years of the MLK Sunrise Celebration


ALA logo

ALA Honors African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation

July 3, 2018

Resolution to Honor African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation Whereas the system of “Jim Crow” laws and customs officially existed into the 1960s—a century after the official end of slavery in the United States; Whereas virulent racism, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually … Continue reading ALA Honors African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation


“Every Person Matters”

February 12, 2018

An estimated 230 people attended the 6:30 a.m. celebration, joined by more than two dozen library leaders who read passages, made short speeches, and recited poems that recognized King’s legacy and advocated for peace and social justice. The event was sponsored by the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, the Social Responsibilities … Continue reading “Every Person Matters”


Breaking Barriers with Patrisse Cullors and Marley Dias

February 11, 2018

Cullors’s parents had talked to her a little about the civil rights movement, but left out details. Mrs. Goldberg at Erwin Street Elementary School in Van Nuys, California, however, gave young Patrisse books to fill in the gaps, such as Mildred D. Taylor’s The Gold Cadillac. Goldberg also allowed Cullors to report on the books to the … Continue reading Breaking Barriers with Patrisse Cullors and Marley Dias




An officer escorts five men from the Alexandria (Va.) Library in August 1939. They were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I Always Will Refuse”

June 1, 2017

August 21, 1939. Five African-American men—William “Buddy” Evans, Edward Gaddis, Morris L. Murray, Clarence “Buck” Strange, and Otis Lee Tucker—walk into the whites-only Alexandria (Va.) Library (now the Barrett branch library). Strange’s younger brother Bobby, 14, serves as lookout and courier. The men, who range in age from 18 to 22, ask for library cards … Continue reading “I Always Will Refuse”