I chose our theme, “Telling Our Stories, Shaping Our World,” for our recent Women of Courage and Conviction Awards program because I am troubled by the state of affairs in this country. As someone who vividly remembers being a 4-year-old taken by her mother to sign up for her first library card, I am disheartened by the treatment of some of our librarians and the effort to purge library shelves of a well-rounded history, much of it, Black history.
I never thought I’d see the day when librarians—dedicated public servants—would have their reputations, careers, and very lives put at risk because of hate, fear, and bigotry. I never thought that students in 2023 would be taught in social studies classes that some enslaved Africans benefited from their bondage.
Communities across the country are facing hostility for teaching Black history. We are in a war of cultural misinformation, and we must face it down. We must protect our stories. In the words of the esteemed founder of the National Council of Negro Women, Mary McLeod Bethune,
If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.
We need to preserve and protect our stories that shape our world.
GBS NCNW President