Black History Month Events at the Wilson Library

by Marian Huggins, New Haven Free Public Library

This year’s Black History Month theme for the library fea-tures two prominent writers: James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. Along with partners from Project Longevity, we will show the film I Am Not Your Negro, a work adapted from an unfinished James Baldwin manuscript. The screening will be held at the Wilson Branch, 303 Washington Ave., New Haven, on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.

James Baldwin, described as an “American Novelist and Social Critic,” unearths the hard truths about racism in America while describing his responses to the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X.

Langston Hughes, whose birthday by the way is Feb. 1, was a prolific poet and social activist as well. His writing could be biting, but was usually cloaked either in humor (as in the Jesse B. Semple Stories) or softened by the hopefulness of a future when all would be accepted, like in the poem “I, Too”:

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.
Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

The Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series will feature a biography of Langston Hughes for our February meeting, Feb. 24 at noon. New readers are welcome and readers can choose whatever biography (or autobiography) written for teens and adults they’d like to read for the discussion. The Langston Hughes biography is in conjunction with our Black History Month celebration and it fits in with the cultural and social justice theme of the discussion group. The book discussion will be followed by the film Hughes’ Dream Harlem at 1:30 p.m.  Wilson Branch, New Haven Free Public Library, 303 Washington Ave., (203) 946-2228.

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