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The African Diaspora

Visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture.

Interior Center for Black Literature & Culture
  • The Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) is home to our largest collection of materials by Black authors. Take as long as you'd like to browse this collection that features authors whose work impacts local, national and global culture in literature, sports, business, politics, science and music.

Explore primary sources and Black history portals.

  • The Power of Black Voices
    This online resource from the Center for Black Literature & Culture includes artifacts, photographs, and articles in the categories: Black Literature, Indianapolis Black Heritage, Black Culture, Black Librarianship, and The African Diaspora.
  • Digital Schomburg
    Exhibitions, books, articles, photographs, prints, audio and video streams, and selected external links for research in the history and cultures of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Find your own story.

In the webinar African American Genealogy, Nichelle Hayes, leader of the Center for Black Literature & Culture, explains the basic principals of genealogy for those of African ancestry including information about specific challenges and particularly helpful databases. For additional help, see our guide to getting started researching your family history from home, including links to Indiana and national websites about genealogy.

Dive into online databases.

Use your IndyPL Library card to access curated databases that are credible and reliable sources.

  • The African American Experience In this database you can study African American history and its relation to U.S. history through published articles, essays, artifacts, images, documents, and other historical and culturally valuable sources.
  • Black Studies in Video Watch documentaries, interviews and archival footage exploring the history of African Americans through politics, art and culture, sociology, and history in this video encyclopedia.
  • Black Thought & Culture Find works of leading African Americans in this collection of articles, interviews, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters, and full run of The Black Panther newspaper.
  • Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: Challenges and Triumphs in the Pursuit of Equality Learn more about the foundation of ongoing racial injustice in the U.S. and the fight against it. This resource contains primary documents about people and events in African American History.

Investigate local history.

Browse through thousands of local artifacts, images, and documents in the Digital Indy archive and the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Here are some featured collections to get you started:

  • Crispus Attucks High School Year Books In 1927, Crispus Attucks High School opened its doors as Indianapolis’ first and only all-Black high school.

  • Black History, Indianapolis History Black history has a long presence in Indianapolis, and makes up the very fabric of the city. Six years after the founding of Indianapolis, out of the 1,066 total residents 55 were African American (source). There is no history of Indianapolis without Indianapolis’ vibrant and diverse Black population.

For those interested in learning about the early Black history in American, you might like joining The 1619 Project Read Along: A Classroom Without Walls, an online discussion designed to "remove barriers and invite all curious minds to discover and discuss this vital history."

You can check out a copy of The 1619 Project or, you can download several chapters being made available the next several months. There will be an opportunity to join an online discussion at @OneWorldBooks (an imprint of Random House) on Instagram. They will also share weekly discussion guides.

Download the first two chapters now:

  • “Democracy” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • “Capitalism” by Matthew Desmond

Revisit between 1/23 at 9 AM EST and 1/25 at 9 AM EST to download the next two chapters:

  • “Fear” by Michelle Alexander and Leslie Alexander
  • “Race” by Dorothy Roberts

The final two chapters will be released in February:

  • “Justice” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • “Music” by Wesley Morris