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Wilmington Public Library offering a robust schedule of Black History Month programs

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

The "Living Legend Series" opened last week with activist and scholar Angela Davis - best known for her alignment with groups like the Black Panthers.

The "Living Legend Series" opened last week with activist and scholar Angela Davis, best known for her alignment with groups like the Black Panthers.

A series designed to spark conversation, it’s reflective of a new vision, says Carl Shaw, Manager of Community Engagement at Wilmington Public Library.

“We have this new vision for the Wilmington Public Library to be the social and intellectual and recreational hub for the community. And people are learning through experience now,” said Shaw. “So even though we have books, we have computers, technology, we still have DVDs, it's important that we also provide experiential learning, and that’s what these programs provide.”

While the library provides resources like computers, books, and DVDs, Shaw added that experiential learning helps to inspire, an outcome that was exemplified at the Angela Davis event, which turned out to be a major success.

People lined the walls in order to hear Dr. Davis speak. And the line for her book signing, which followed the event, stretched across the large library.

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media
Activist and scholar Angela Davis visited the Wilmington Library during Black History Moth 'Living Legends' series

“Inspire to learn, inspire to want to be better, inspire to want to create a better community for Wilmington, for the state, and for our nation,” said Shaw. “So as far as the library being an intellectual hub, you also want to be an inspirational hub to provide motivation to be positive and change the world.”

And it was an inspirational hub.

During the Q&A portion of the event, a 15 year-old girl, moved to tears at the aspect of speaking to one of her heroes, asked Dr. Davis “What is your advice for someone my age?” The question sparked a talk on youth activism, environmental justice, and intersectionality.

“It’s always been the case that young people have been in the forefront of change,” Davis began. “Because they are closer both to the future we want to prevent and the future we want to imagine, and embrace, and forge.”

She ended her answer by highlighting the importance of community, while also reminding her young fan to believe in herself.

“So just remember that you are strong. And you are powerful,” said Davis. “And always, always, remember that you’re not alone. And I think that’s the most important message.”

The “Living Legend” series continues with Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of students who, in 1957, were the first Black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Green was the first Black student to graduate from the school in 1958. He speaks on Thursday, February 17.

The series concludes with actress Pam Grier, best known for her portrayal of tough and sexy crime fighters in the 1970s genre of “blaxploitation” films such as ‘The Big Bird Cage’, ‘Coffy’, and ‘Foxy Brown,’ discussing her life and career on Wednesday, February 23.

For more information about these events visit the Wilmington Library website.