Celebrating Black History Month

Released On: 2/4/2020

Lorain Public Library System will be celebrating Black History Month with a wide variety of events and activities focusing on African Americans and their contribution to the United States and Lorain County.

LPLS’s programming begins Feb. 1 with a Black History Month Interactive Display at both the Avon and South Lorain branch designed to last the entire month during the branch’s normal operating hours, which, Avon Branch Manager Donna Kelly said, “will give us an opportunity to celebrate the diversity within our communities.”

South Lorain Manager Ally Morgan said they will also feature a slew of programming for all ages, including a Black History Month Party on Feb. 8, a Black History Month painting event on Feb. 15 and an African American Family History Research event on Feb. 21.

“This is a great opportunity to support the community and celebrate Black History Month,” Morgan said. “It’s important for the library to recognize the achievements and contributions of people of color in our community.”

The Main Library will be having two separate “In Focus” events, aimed at putting the spotlight on modern African American filmmakers. The first, on Feb. 7, will focus on Jordan Peele and the second, on Feb. 21, will focus on Ava DuVernay.

“For Black History Month, the Main Library wanted to highlight people who are making history in real time,” Assistant Manager Annalisse Strippoli said. “To celebrate this, we are featuring the work of two groundbreaking directors in Ava DuVernay and Jordan Peele. They have made numerous contributions to film-making and continue to change the game when it comes to the industry.”

The North Ridgeville Branch will have an African Drum Dance program on Feb. 9, allowing for patrons to experience West African rhythms, songs and dances, in addition to a look at Lorain County’s role in the Underground Railroad on Feb. 16.

“These programs serve to empower individuals to learn, explore and have conversations about the moments and people that have shaped our collective past, and provide historical context for the current issues and movements within our community,” North Ridgeville Branch Manager Jennifer Winkler said. “It is imperative that libraries remain a destination of inclusion where all individuals feel represented and valued.”

The Avon Branch will also be hosting the Underground Railroad program on Feb. 25.

Domonkas Branch Manager Anne Godec said on Feb. 22 they will be hosting Sherrie Tolliver from Women in History Ohio and she will be portraying Zelma Watson George, an African American delegate to the U.N., opera singer, speaker and educator. In her later years, she was Director of the Cleveland Job Corps and even in retirement, continued to lecture at Tri-C. 

“We wanted to have a program for Black History Month that focused on someone less well known but still important to Black History and who had a connection to Northeast Ohio,” she said. “As a system we love to hold programs that expand our patrons'; worldview and provide opportunities for lifelong learning.”

All of the LPLS book clubs this month will also be featuring a different Toni Morrison book in celebration of both Black History Month and the author’s life. 

Morrison, a Lorain native and the first African American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, passed away on Aug. 5, 2019.

LPLS CEO Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz said Morrison continues to be important to all lovers of literature across the world and especially in Lorain.

“She not only shaped the publishing world as an editor who discovered and mentored authors, she changed the world through her words,” she said. “Even though she moved away from Lorain many years ago, she spoke about Lorain and why it is a special place. She lived in Lorain during a very vibrant period of growth and community building.”

Diamond-Ortiz said the magic of Morrison is readers who are discovering her work for the first time an those who are well familiar with her books are coming together around literature and talking about her books, including Diamond-Ortiz herself who recently reread her favorite books of Morrison’s “Beloved.”

“We saw that in the days following her passing,” she said. “It is exciting for us as a library because we are able to share her works with many audiences through book discussions, programs and, of course, providing her books in the library.”

Lorain County will be celebrating Feb. 18 as Toni Morrison Day on what would have been her 89 th birthday, but Diamond-Ortiz said she hopes it continues beyond 2020.