February is Black History Month, and the theme this year is Black Resistance. Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is resistance through protest, but there are so many ways that Black people have resisted – and continue to resist – oppression. One story of resistance that I would like to share here is about Dr. Carla Hayden, currently serving as the first woman and first African American Librarian of Congress. Before she was appointed to that position by President Barrack Obama, Dr. Hayden was the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD. In 2015, when the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody sparked a massive protest against police brutality in the city, Dr. Hayden made the decision to keep the public libraries open as a refuge and safe place for the community. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Hayden (and her mother!) when I was a library student about six months later. I listened as she spoke about her experiences, how she kept all of the branches of the library open, how she set up and coordinated reading groups and other educational opportunities for children whose schools had been closed, and how proud and afraid she was when her mother came to the main branch of the library to help distribute water and food to protesters.
This month, I encourage everyone to learn more about people like Dr. Hayden, to support projects like The Baltimore Uprising Archive, and to do something to help resist the racism that still affects Black lawyers (and librarians) today. Check out our library's Black History Month display for some suggested reading.