Discourses on Civil Rights: A New Exhibit in SNO

Pictures of three books on floor, all about civil rights
(Photo courtesy of Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman)

In honor of Black History Month (also called African American History Month), the UW Tacoma Library has a new exhibit up in the Snoqualmie Building.

We wanted  to highlight literature written by contemporary African American authors (such as Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming), as well as scholarship about the Civil Rights movement.  To enhance the relevance of this exhibit, we also feature several local oral history interviews by prominent civil rights activists in Tacoma.  These oral histories are part of the Tacoma Community History Project, digitized and stored in the UW Tacoma Library’s Digital Commons.

Four books in a library display about Civil Rights
(Photo courtesy Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman)

We chose to put the term “discourses” in the title of our exhibit, because these titles — academic and fiction — represent a multitude of stories, conversations, debates.

Drawing on Foucault, we are also very aware of the power dynamics that have shaped, and continue to shape, the histories of people of color in the United States.  Systemic in nature, we hope that these power dynamics can be examined and dismantled through some of the literature we feature, including resources about white fragility and privilege, and Black Lives Matter.  Wherever possible, we have highlighted “#OwnVoices” titles.

To paraphrase the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, there is strength and necessity in hearing multiple versions of stories.

Library exhibit featuring civil rights books and a raised black power fist
(Photo courtesy of Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman)

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