Central Library in downtown Indianapolis will open the Center for Black Literature and Culture this weekend.
The nearly 4,000-square-foot center in the library’s West Reading Room features a collection of 10,000 volumes, along with interactive displays and research tools. It will also host programs and special exhibits exploring the black experience in Indianapolis and beyond.
Journalist and political commentator Roland Martin will be the keynote speaker at Saturday’s grand opening event. He says the experiences of black people are too often left out of American History.
“We are two years away from the 400th anniversary commemorating the first 20-odd Africans arriving in 1619,” Martin says. “And our story has been one of resilience, has been a fight for liberation, and there should be such a center in every town and country.”
Those who worked to create the center say the goal is to shine a light on that story and the work of black icons, who have influenced American and world culture. And even though that influence is often overlooked, Martin says it is significant.
“Our contribution is extremely great,” Martin says, “and the fact of the matter is black folks ‒ more than anybody else ‒ have done more to force America to live up to its ideals as it is written on paper as opposed to what it has been in practice.”
The CBLC grand opening is part of Central Library’s centennial celebration.