2019 has been an exciting year for the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. This year, we have undergone some major changes, with the addition of our new Chief Curator, Bamidele Agbasegbe-Demerson, our new library aide, Stephanie Jackson, our new part-time librarian, Jen Bator, and our new full-time librarian, yours' truly, Steve Bartenhagen. Additionally, we are making big plans for the new year that will involve more of our Meet the Author lecture and book signing series, the continued growth of our Saturday children's storytime, more educational and insightful programming, and the evolution of our library services and community engagement, changes we hope will enable AAMLO to better share our collections and serve the needs of the people of Oakland and California. Here are some 2019 highlights from AAMLO:
Meet the Author
In 2019, AAMLO was pleased to host the following authors for readings, discussions, and book signings. Follow the links to find the books in OPL's online catalog:
- February - Arisa White & Laura Atkins - Biddy Mason Speaks Up
- March - Maxine Gordon - Sophisticated Giant: The life and legacy of Dexter Gordon
- April - Josephine Boling McCall - The Penalty for Success: My father was lynched in Lowndes County, Alabama (available through Link+)
- August - Clifford L. Williams - Pimps to Pops: A Journey to Fatherhood
- October - Armand Gonzales, Sr. - Kathryn Magnolia Johnson: An autobiographical compilation
- December - Breanna McDaniel - Hands Up & Rabboni Selah - Learn to be Your Own Hero
In addition to our permanent exhibit, Visions Toward Tomorrow: African Americans in Oakland 1890 to 1990, in 2019, AAMLO was proud to present museum exhibits on the life of dancer, poet, and cultural activist, Ruth Beckford (ongoing), as well as Men of Valor, clay portraits of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama by sculptor Lawrence Buford. Our recent public discussion of the new film, Harriet, and our annual Festival of Black Dolls were well attended and drew rave reviews from participants and patrons alike. Last January, AAMLO was standing-room-only for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Film Festival. Stay tuned for the official announcement of this year's lineup, coming soon! (photo of 2019 MLK Jr. Film Festival by Marco Frazier)
Seed Lending Library
2019 saw the expansion and relocation of AAMLO's seed lending library, and we continue to offer programs and workshops to help our patrons make use of this invaluable resource and grow their own. Last July, we held a successful workshop titled, Growing Small Spaces: Healing Gardens. Upcoming events include a holiday gift making program, From the Garden. Anyone can sign up to learn to make salves, salt scrubs, and more creative gifts for the holiday season. This event will be held on December 21st, 2019 at 2 pm.
AAMLO's archival collection continues to grow and remains an invaluable resource for researchers and students in the Bay Area and across the country. In the past year, significant additions were made to the Ronald V. Dellums Congressional Papers, and the digitization of the Henry J. Williams Jr. Film Collection was completed. This project, made possible by a 2018 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, provides public access to 98 films documenting the Black Panther Party and student and union protest movements of the late 1960s and early '70s. The films are available for viewing via the Online Archive of California.
With your help, AAMLO will continue to grow, inform, and inspire over the coming months and years. Resolve to stop by and check out AAMLO's amazing resources and say hi to our wonderful staff in the new year. On behalf of the folks at AAMLO, I would like to wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous 2020.