Shreve Memorial Library is celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the many contributions of African Americans to the arts. The 2024 Black History Month theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” highlights the many influences of African Americans in the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary arts and other forms of cultural expression. Throughout the month of February, Shreve Memorial Library branches throughout Caddo Parish will celebrate these accomplishments and influences with programs honoring local and historical African Americans in the arts. Programs will include interactive lectures, author talks, dramatic performances, and hands-on arts and crafts workshops. All programs are free and open to the public.
Beginning Monday, February 5, local historian, Robert Trudeau, will visit several Shreve Memorial Library branches to present the first programs in a new series called “Black Achievers.” The series will celebrate the lives and legacies of local African American historical figures. In February, Trudeau will celebrate the life of Norman C. Davis, a Black barber, musician and land developer in Shreveport in the mid-1800s. The interactive lectures will use material sourced from Willie Burton’s book, The Blacker the Berry, and incorporate sketching and coloring to highlight the people and images discussed. The “Black Achievers: Norma C. Davis” lectures will take place at the following Shreve Memorial Library branches on the dates and times listed below.
· Monday, February 5 at 6:00 p.m. at the Broadmoor Branch, 1212 Captain Shreve Drive
· Saturday, February 17 at 1:00 p.m. at the Atkins Branch, 3704 Greenwood Road
· Thursday, February 22 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hollywood/Union Avenue Branch, 2105 Hollywood Avenue
· Saturday, February 24 at 11:00 a.m. at the Wallette Branch, 363 Hearne Avenue
· Tuesday, February 27 at 11:00 a.m. at the David Raines Branch, 2855 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Also sourcing material from Willie Burton, the Hollywood/Union Avenue Branch will host a special program on Thursday, February 29 reflecting on Willie Burton’s On the Black Side of Shreveport. The program will explore the political, social, educational, religious and economic developments of Black citizens in northwest Louisiana as recorded in the book published in 1983. The discussion will take place at the Hollywood/Union Avenue Branch at 1:00 p.m.
The Mooretown Branch will also celebrate the work of African American authors as they present a “Salute to African American Authors” on Saturday, February 17. The virtual event will provide African American authors an opportunity to share stories of their works and network with other authors to reach new heights of literary excellence by locally and abroad. The program will take place via Zoom, and will begin at 12:00 p.m. The event can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2024BHMMO.
The David Raines Branch will celebrate Black History Month through dramatic performances on Monday, February 19, as the branch presents excerpts from “The Drum.” The play, written by award-winning playwright, film and television writer Judi Ann Mason and Dr. Vincent Williams, Caddo Parish Talents Art teacher and founder of Extension of Excellence Performing Arts, Inc., tells the stories of African American history through its unsung heroes using poetry and music. Caddo Parish Talented Arts students will present monologues and excerpts from the play. The performance begins at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 19 at the David Raines Branch.
Additionally, library patrons are invited to express their creativity through arts and crafts workshops inspired by African American art, history and culture. On Tuesday, February 6, the Atkins Branch will educate library patrons on the symbolism used in Underground Railroad quilts. During slavery, messages were often embedded in the quilt square designs so that those looking to escape were able to read them as the quilts were hung outside to air out on porches on windows without alerting the master or mistress of the plantations. Patrons will learn more about the images in quilt squares and will be able to make their own square. The program will begin at 1:00 p.m., and will take place on the first Tuesday of each month throughout the year, so that patrons will have enough squares for a complete quilt by the end of the year.
Both the Hamilton/South Caddo Branch and the Cedar Grove-Line Avenue Branch will host craft workshops inspired by Black History Month. The Hamilton/South Caddo Branch, 2111 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop, will host a wreath-making workshop on Wednesday, February 21 at 10:30 a.m. in which participants can make a Black History Month themed wreath. The Cedar Grove-Line Avenue Branch, 8303 Line Avenue, will host a crafters’ celebration of Black History Month on Friday, February 23 at 10:00 a.m. Adults are invited to visit the branch to make a variety of fast, fun crafts in honor of Black History Month.
On Thursday, February 29, the West Shreveport Branch, located at 4380 Pine Road, invites adults to “Paint It Out” in celebration of Black History Month. Adults will be able to complete paintings reflecting on the 2024 Black History Month theme of “African Americans and the Arts.” All supplies and materials will be provided. Those interested will have two opportunities to participate, as the program will take place at 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 29.
Shreve Memorial Library branches throughout Caddo Parish will also host a variety of Black History Month programs for teens and children as well.