Our Kick-off Event on #BlackLivesMatter, Roxane Gay, and more: Celebrating Black History Month at the Library

January 19, 2017 | Sarah Weinrauch

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Toronto is well-known as one of the most diverse cities in the world and our embrace of multiculturalism makes us more knowledgeable and experienced citizens, lending innovation and creativity to much of what we do as Torontonians and Canadians. To celebrate a key aspect of this diversity – and with support from TD Bank – Toronto Public Library presents a number of lectures, discussions, music and dance programs celebrating Toronto’s and Canada’s black communities this February in our annual Black History Month.

BHM performers, writers, poets, activists and historians
Left to right, top to bottom: Roxane Gay, Del Cowie, Shakera Martin, Dean Turner, George Elliott Clarke, Adebe DeRango-Adem, Clifton Joseph, Lillian Allen, Giovanna Riccio, Hoza, Anthony Morgan, Desmond Cole, Dalton Higgins, Léonica Valcius, Joshua “Scribe” Watkis and Stacey Marie Robinson.

The kickoff event, entitled #BlackLivesMatter, on Wed., Feb. 1 promises a candid discussion on the achievements of Toronto’s black communities, race relations in Canada and the Black Lives Matter movement with Desmond Cole, Anthony Morgan, Chrys Saget-Richards and Toronto Star’s Morgan Campbell. Later in the month, co-founder of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Beverley Salmon, will speak on racial profiling and carding practices.

Other lectures and conversations explore history, politics and social analysis with a wide array of talent including Viola DesmondJoshua GloverSaint Maurice and King Mansa Musa, as well as a number of films from the National Film Board. Social entrepreneur Dwayne Morgan gets us motivated and Guinness World record-setting rapper Duane D.O. Gibson performs.

For music aficionados, sing songs from Barbados, learn about steel pan and African drums, and enjoy a performance by Canada’s cutting edge gospel group, Toronto Mass Choir. Enjoy two panel discussions on classic hip hop albums and the trailblazers who helped shape them in Before the 6ix

In conversation with Garvia Bailey, bestselling author of Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay talks about difficult women; free tickets are available starting Thu., Feb. 3. On Tue., Feb. 23, eh List Toronto-Caribbean authors, poets and publicists discuss diversity in literature. And for those interested in curling up with a good book, take a look at our recommended reads, featuring material for all ages.

Gold by George Elliott Clarke   Difficult Women by Roxane Gay   Swing Time by Zadie Smith   The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children by Wanda Lauren Taylor    Aluta by Adwoa Badoe   Booked by Kwame Alexander    Charles R. Smith Jr. - 28 Days   Oscar Lives Next Door by Bonnie Farmer    Nana and Me by Kathy Knowles

For the entire month, Morningside branch will be showcasing two art exhibits inspired by children’s Carnival and Caribbean life. At branches across the city, the whole family can enjoy stories and dance programs.

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 MalvernMaria A. ShchukaParkdale and York Woods branches year round.

With a little something for everyone, we hope you come out to one of the many festivities honouring black writers, historians, musicians and artists and the abundance of talent in our city.

One love. One heart.