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Center for Black Literature & Culture

The Indianapolis Public Library's Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) is dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots. If you have visited the CBLC or attended a CBLC program, please take our survey!

Center for Black Literature & Culture
Center for Black Literature & Culture Logo

Located in the R.B. Annis West Reading Room at Central Library, the Center for Black Literature & Culture is home to a 10,000+ item collection of books, CDs, magazines, movies and research tools, all of which showcase black history and culture. This space is for ALL who are interested in exploring the rich heritage that has influenced nations across the globe. Visit us to browse our collections, join us for one of our signature programs, or explore our digital collections and website online. Tours are available by request.

The creation of the Center for Black Literature & Culture is made possible thanks to a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.


Programs

The CBLC regularly hosts authors, poets, and other programs throughout the year, and we hope you can join us! Recent favorites include workshops with poet and friend of the CBLC Adrian Matejka, African American Genealogy, Reparations 101, Readings of Frederick Douglass, and more. Check back here for updates or contact us if you have an idea for a CBLC program or partnership.


Featured Annual Events

Center for Black Literature & Culture 5th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, October 29 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Since its grand opening in 2017, the CBLC has hosted an annual anniversary celebration. The event is a celebration of the Center's creation and its continued dedication to the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots. This year's event will include a variety of speakers, activities, and entertainment including:

  • Interim CEO, Nichelle Hayes
  • Interim CBLC Manager, Amira Malcom
  • African Drumming
  • Indy Author Showcase
  • CBLC Poet Laureate, Januarie York
  • DJ IN4RED & 360 Photobooth
  • Kids' Corner Activities
  • US National Poet Laureate, Alyssa Gaines
  • A premier guest speaker presented by our friends at the Indiana Librarians Leading in Diversity(ILLID), who is to be announced at a later date.

Book Fest & Juneteenth Celebration
The Annual Indy Book Fest and Juneteenth Celebration offers a glimpse of the African American experience through arts, literature, and storytelling. We bring together poets, visual artists, storytellers, musicians, and book clubs to emphasize cultural literacy. In 2022 we were excited and honored to partner with the YMCA's Monster Meeting to welcome via video, Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family and On Juneteenth. We will share details about our 2023 Juneteenth Celebration when we know them.

Hoosiers Reading Frederick Douglass Together
Join us annually in July to read and discuss “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass. The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities started the program, Reading Frederick Douglass Together, to encourage families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to gather and read the speech aloud to help shape our understanding of freedom in American. If you are unable to attend a reading, you can find the text here. There is a printable tip sheet, discussion guide, and page of helpful resources. In addition, we invite you to explore Indiana University School of Liberal Arts' Frederick Douglas Papers.


Resources

Center for Black Literature & Culture: The Power of Black Voices Website
This online collection includes artifacts, photographs, and articles in the categories: Black Literature, Indianapolis Black Heritage, Black Culture, Black Librarianship, and The African Diaspora. Browse the collection here.

The Center for Black Literature & Culture: The Power of Black Voices

Center for Black Literature & Culture e-Book & Audiobook Collection
You can download and stream e-books and audiobooks from the CBLC digital collection in OverDrive or in the Libby app with your Library card. Browse the collection here. If you have never borrowed from OverDrive before both app directions and browser directions are available as well as a video tutorial and Overdrive Support.

Murals for Justice Collection
In June 2020, local artists of color were commissioned to create murals from artwork originally created on the wood that was used to cover downtown Indianapolis windows amid that year's May protests of the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Dreasjon Reed. The purpose of this commissioned work is to ensure this art was archived as a part of Indianapolis history. The Murals for Justice Collection is housed in the Center for Black Literature & Culture. Each mural is also available for checkout. Learn more here.

Need help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text or email Ask-a-Librarian.

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