Catawba County News

Celebrating Black History at the Library

Celebrating Black History at the Library

Published: January 26, 2024

Celebrate Black History Month at your library with displays, programs, art, and resources. 

Black History Month is observed in February each year. It's a time for education, reflection, and celebration of the diverse and impactful experiences of the African American community throughout history. The 2024 theme is "African Americans and the Arts" spanning the many impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more.

Keeping with this year’s theme, the Main Library in Newton will be hosting a month-long art exhibit, Francis Simeni: Examining Self-Image and Identity, from February 15 through March 15. The exhibit opening will be Thursday, February 15 and the community is invited to join us from 5:30 - 7 pm. This will include a meet and greet with the artist, and time for him to share his process and inspiration for his work. Born in Nigeria, raised in Poland, and settling in America, Francis Simeni has had to examine who he was in relation to his environment and culture. His works are about finding truth, beauty, self-love, defiance, complexity, and all the things that make us human, through the lens of portraiture.

Different library locations will offer book displays and reading lists including Black Authors from Around the World, Black Technology Inventors, and African Americans in Science and the Arts. Libby and Hoopla will also offer Black History Month reading (and listening) lists, available with your library card. 

The library is excited to offer two author visits with New York Times best selling author Kwame Mbalia, one for students and one for the community. Join us on Thursday, February 29 from 4 - 6 pm at the Central Recreation Center located at 301 South Ervin Avenue in Newton. Families will enjoy a light dinner, followed by a conversation with Mr. Mbalia highlighting his life as an author and his books, including Black Boy Joy and the Tristan Strong series. These events have been made possible by the Catawba County Friends of the Library, and a cultural grant from the Corning Incorporated Foundation, and in partnership with the City of Newton and Catawba County Schools. 

Juneteenth planning is also underway, and the library is excited to be involved in the countywide celebration again this year. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is our country’s second independence day and honors the end to slavery in the United States. From May 19 - June 19, Catawba County agencies and organizations will commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations, performances, parades, guest speakers, revivals, resource fairs, informative programing, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing, a time for empowerment and excellence, a time for community and togetherness.