Marlon James and More: Celebrating Black History Month at the Library

January 19, 2016 | Sarah Weinrauch

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In February, Toronto Public Library celebrates Black History Month. While we honour black writers, historians, musicians and artists year round, this celebration is an opportunity to shine a light on the abundance of culture and talent in our city. With a sponsorship from TD Bank, we are pleased to bring fun and thought-provoking Black History Month events to branches across Toronto.

Left to right, top to bottom: Mama’s Quit by Ivey Hayes, Marlon James, Marci Ien, Dr. Mike Daley, Del Cowie, Shakera Martin, Desmond Cole, Karolyn Smardz Frost, George Elliott Clarke, Roger Gibbs, Dalton Higgins, Craig Shrever, Pamela Mordecai, and Karen Hill and Lawrence Hill.

To get things started, our Kickoff Gala, hosted by CTV’s Marci Ien, showcases dynamic and traditional forms of dance, theatre, authentic renditions of Bajan songs and stories, and introspective music with 2010 World Poetry Slam Champion Ian Keteku.

On January 21, free tickets become available to hear Marlon James, celebrated Jamaican author and winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings, who will appear in conversation with Toronto International Film Festival Artistic Director Cameron Bailey.

The Urban Book Expo happens at North York Central Library on February 13. Torontonians are also invited to drop in on any one of four featured eh List Author Series talks including George Elliott Clarke, Craig Shreve, Pamela Mordecai, and a special event with Lawrence Hill on the novel Café Babanussa, written by his sister, the late Karen Hill. 

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James - Book Cover     Cafe Babanussa by Karen Hill Book Cover    The Motorcyclist by George Elliott Clarke Book Cover  
One Night in Mississippi by Craig Shreve Book Cover    Red Jacket by Pamela Mordecai Book Cover   

Did you know Toronto Public Library houses one of the most significant literary black and Caribbean heritage collections in Canada? An invaluable resource, the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection houses over 16,000 print and audiovisual materials for adults, children and teens, and can be found at Malvern, Maria A. Shchuka, Parkdale, and York Woods branches year round.

For music aficionados, Before the 6ix explores the Canadian, pre-Drake music scene with a panel that includes Exclaim! magazine editor Del Cowie, hip hop artist Saukrates, DJ Agile and more. Dr. Mike Daley reveals the secrets of Motown, Tafelmusik’s Music Director Jeanne Lamon presents Le Mozart Noir and author Dalton Higgins analyzes the politics, messages and global reach of hip hop and rap in today’s pop culture.

Attend lectures on history, politics, and social analysis presented by Desmond Cole, Karolyn Smardz Frost, Hilary J. Dawson, Down To Earth Conservation Education, and a variety of films screened as part of a National Film Board Mini Film Fest.

Community members are invited to help document Toronto history by sharing stories and memorabilia at Myseum on the Move. The whole family is invited to programs on African and Caribbean music, dance, stories and puppet shows.

With a little something for everyone, we hope you come out to one or many festivities, but if you prefer to curl up on the couch with a good book, why not choose something from our curated reading list.

One love. One heart.