Robyn Maynard, Donisha Prendergast and Imbolo Mbue Headline Black History Month Celebrations at the Library

January 31, 2018 | Sarah Weinrauch

Comments (1)

During the month of February, Toronto Public Library celebrates Black History Month at branches across the city. Generously supported by TD Bank, Torontonians are invited to enjoy over 50 programs on culture, arts, history and civic perspective. Getting things started at the Toronto Reference Library this Thursday, February 1, Canada’s Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and 2010 World Poetry Slam Champion Ian Keteku perform their poetry set to the sweet grooves of live jazz. The following week on February 6, author Robyn Maynard, civil rights lawyer Anthony Morgan and Toronto Star’s Shree Paradkar discuss the complicated relationship between Canada's black communities and the police.


rapper Thrust, author Robyn Maynard and multi-media artist Ian Keteku.
L to R: rapper Thrust, author Robyn Maynard and multi-media artist Ian Keteku.

A number of fantastic musical presentations are coming your way including musician, composer and arts educator Joy Lapps-Lewis on steel pans; Roger Gibbs sharing songs and stories from the Caribbean; and lots of drums and drumming. Check out musicologist, professor and Grammy Award-winner Rob Bowman on the magic that is Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" at Don Mills Branch. Back at the Toronto Reference Library, rapper Thrust, MC/author/radio show host Motion, and music producers, Mr. Attic and Nick Holder discuss the history of Toronto's hip hop vinyl scene and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rascalz' song, "Northern Touch." Plus, there are a number of other discussions on hip hop.

Other program highlights include:


Donisha Prendergast
Film-maker Donisha Prendergast

While Black History Month is embraced in February, we honour black writers, musicians, historians, journalists and artists year round. Celebrating International Women’s Day in March, filmmaker Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Rita and Bob Marley, shares a special screening and Q&A on the documentary "RasTa: A Soul’s Journey". In April, Oprah Book Club author Imbolo Mbue, author of "Behold the Dreamers" which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award and was an Oprah's Book Club selection, graces the stage in the Appel Salon at Toronto Reference Library. And in August, launch your Caribana weekend at The Urban Book Expo at Queen West's Parkdale Branch. Other talent to look out for this year: Marlon James and David Chariandy, Chelene Knight, Teju Cole, Djamilia Ibrahim and more to come.

If you are looking for a little something to curl up with, enjoy our recommended reads highlighting Canadian and international writers of fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry and picture books to name a few. You might also find something in the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Collection. Located in four branches across the city – Malvern, Maria A. Shchuka, Parkdale and York Woods – this collection is recognized as one of the most significant black and Caribbean heritage collections in Canada. (For more information on how you can support the Rita Cox Endowment Fund, call 416-393-7123.)

book cover: In The Black    Book Cover: Behold the Dreamers   Book Cover; Locating Home

Book Cover: The Hate U Give    Book Cover: Greetings, Leroy   Book Cover: Schomburg

With a little something for everyone, we hope you come out to one of the many events and celebrate the abundance of talent, diversity and passion in our city.

One love. One heart.