Black History Month at the Library

There’s certainly a lot for us here at the Library to look forward to in October. Students are returning, term starts, there’s Halloween, and it’s Black History Month. The Students’ Union at Essex is preparing a jam-packed programme of activities for BHM, and the Library is delighted to be hosting a few of them. This year, we are partnering with the Essex SU Black Students Network to put on Library events celebrating Black excellence.

On Wednesday the 23rd of October, Albert Sloman Library in Colchester is hosting a Book Club event discussing the book Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge. It will be from 5:30-7:30 pm in the Special Collections on the first floor of the Library. We’ll be giving out a few free copies of the book, and of course it wouldn’t be a Library event without free cake, so don’t forget to bring your sweet tooth because there will also be plenty of goodies to eat.

For the month of October, there will be BHM borrowable displays in the Libraries at all three of our campuses (Colchester, Loughton, and Southend), featuring books chosen by students in the Black Students Network. The complete list of books can be viewed as a Reading List on Talis.

Black History Month Book Display at Albert Sloman Library

Samira Diebire, the SU Black Community Officer, has shared her thoughts on the importance of BHM and celebrating literature by black authors:

In my life I never celebrated Black History Month, I used to find it meaningless and insulting. Firstly, because I am black every day of the year and I thought I didn’t need a month to remember how special I am. Secondly, because it seemed to be a way to distract ourselves from all the bad things that were happening within our community.
However, over time I have been able to think about how important this month could be for black people in Europe. Especially, for the youth, as it is one of the very few events where they can feel empowered and special. Therefore, this year as the Black Community Officer, I wanted to celebrate the uniqueness and beauty of our culture.
I wanted something positive, that could bring joy, so when you will think about Black History Month, you will see music, art, colours, literature and power.  This is the reason why during this month you will be able to see and attend events where being black is celebrated and admired.  

Samira Diebire
University of Essex SU Black Students Network

If you’re interested further readings, we also have free trial access until 13 November to ProQuest Historical Black Newspapers which includes:

  • The Chicago Defender
  • The Baltimore Afro-American
  • New York Amsterdam News
  • Pittsburgh Courier
  • Los Angeles Sentinel
  • Atlanta Daily World
  • The Norfolk Journal and Guide
  • The Philadelphia Tribune
  • Cleveland Call and Post.

These primary sources provide “unprecedented access to perspectives and information that was excluded or marginalized in mainstream sources.” For more information about this collection, see the ProQuest Overview.

Not able to participate in the events happening at the Library? Take a look at this regional calendar for information on other BHM events happening around Essex. There is something for everyone happening at various locations around the county, and we hope you will able to get involved!

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