Ann Arbor District Library launches new community initiatives addressing racism

The library has launched three new Black Lives Matter initiatives. (Sarah M. Parlette)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. โ€“ The Ann Arbor District Library has launched three new initiatives intended to address anti-Black racism in the Ann Arbor community and add to community history.

Through the initiatives, the library system is seeking stories from community members, will put out of a call for artwork from Black artists and will engage community members with discussion materials.

The new initiatives join two ongoing projects from the library system; the African-American Cultural and Historical Museum Living Oral History Project and weekly newsletter recommendations.

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Here are the new initiatives:

Black Lives Matter Discussion Series

The series is intended to support community members engaging with materials related to anti-Black racism. The use of materials like poetry, fiction, music, podcasts and movies is intended to be inclusive and to provide introductory insight on racism.

Materials used for the series will be available online.

Call for Stories: Anti-Black Racism

In order to further document community history in Ann Arbor, AADL Archives to is asking for community members who has been affected by racism to share their stories. The library system is working with the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County and seeks to document experiences to fill gaps in community history.

The initiative is looking for stories related to racism in personal or professional situations, housing and neighborhoods, anti-Black racism by organizations, racism by the police or government as well as experiences caused by family and friends.

Stories can be submitted through email, an online form or in a five-minute voicemail. Photos, documents, videos and other media are welcome with submissions.

Learn more about the initiative here.

Proposals for Public Artwork

AADL is planning to commission paid artwork from Black artists in the community. Commissioned art will be displayed on the Library Lane fencing.

The AADL will announce a Call for Art in late June.

Learn more about all five initiatives here.

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The AADL has launched a Black Lives Matter page featuring new and ongoing projects intended to address anti-Black racism in our community, and support those who wish to learn more. These initiatives include:โฃ โฃ ๐๐ฅ๐š๐œ๐ค ๐‹๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ ๐Œ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ƒ๐ข๐ฌ๐œ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐’๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ: An intentionally broad discussion series seeking to encourage and support community members in their exploration of and engagement with works that provide insight into anti-Black racism. The series will include classic works and new ones, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, movies, and music.โฃ โฃ ๐‚๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐’๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ: ๐€๐ง๐ญ๐ข-๐๐ฅ๐š๐œ๐ค ๐‘๐š๐œ๐ข๐ฌ๐ฆ: As archivists and historians, we know certain topics infrequently make it into the long-term historical record. โฃ The history of anti-Black racism is one of these topics. As documentarians of our community's history, we seek to fill in those gaps with first-person stories to provide a lasting record of this aspect of community life for the researchers of the future. Some of these stories have been collected as part of the African-American Cultural and Historical Museum Living Oral History interviews, but there are many more stories to be collected and preserved.โฃ โฃ ๐๐ซ๐จ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐š๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐œ ๐€๐ซ๐ญ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ค: The AADL is seeking to commission paid artwork from Black artists to be displayed on the fencing along the Library Lane side of the library, and to invite these artists to contribute to AADL's design projects on an ongoing basis. Watch for a Call for Artists later this month.โฃ โฃ ๐€๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ง-๐€๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ง ๐‚๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐š๐ฅ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐‡๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ฅ ๐Œ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฎ๐ฆ ๐‹๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐Ž๐ซ๐š๐ฅ ๐‡๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐๐ซ๐จ๐ฃ๐ž๐œ๐ญ: An ongoing partnership between the AACHM and AADL creates and provides a permanent home for interviews with prominent Black community members, serving as a road map illustrating what local African Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today. Now entering Phase 7, this project has so far collected 30 interviews.โฃ โฃ To learn more about these initiatives, please visit

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About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.