Haddonfield residents will have opportunities to learn about Black experience through a number of events at the Haddonfield library this month, which celebrates African American history.
Library Director Eric Zino noted that the facility’s theme this year is “One World, Many Stories.”
“As we approach this year with ‘One World, Many Stories,’ it just had us look up front with (the idea of) ‘What can we do each month that is really going to expand (the understanding) of anyone who cares to join us of different groups and life experiences?’”
Residents can learn about Black History in Camden from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, at a lecture-style event presented by Bonny Beth Elwell, library director for the Camden County Historical Society. She will focus on the county’s African American history in the 18th and 19th centuries, and will touch on slavery as well as free Black communities like Sadlertown, Davistown and Snow Hill, presently Lawnside.
“One thing that I like to emphasize is the fact that there is substantial history early on in Camden County,” Elwell explained. “A lot of people think that Black history doesn’t start until after the Civil War, but there was a substantial community here … even in the 1600s and 1700s.”
She noted that while many people think Blacks were enslaved and powerless prior to the Civil War, some experienced freedom and power.
“Knowing that is empowering,” Elwell said.
For a more modern take, the library will host a virtual event from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13.“Rooting Out Hair Discrimination” will explore how “hair has been used as a tool of systematic violence in America against people of African descent.” Its presenter will be Dr. Patti O’Brien-Richardson, associate professor, health researcher, and chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers-New Brunswick .
Attendees will “get up and get moving” from noon to 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18, at a performance-based event by the African American Museum of Philadelphia that will focus on the use of drums as communication and the role and meaning of dance in West African cultures.
The last library event, a presentation on African American women’s history, is scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. It will explore the activism of Black women from slavery to the Civil Rights movement, including in Philadelphia.
To register for any library, visit https://www.haddonfieldlibrary.org/.