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Segregation and the Public Library

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

This morning while looking online I noticed my most recent book, “The Dizzy and Daffy Dean Barnstorming Tour: Race, Media and America’s National Pastime,” was purchased by the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library for the Wyandotte County History room. Kansas City, Kansas was home for most of my youth. My community was a segregated neighborhood where I attended Dunbar Elementary and North East Jr. high schools. In this community I attended all-black churches, ate at black owned restaurants, brought candy from minority owned stores and played on all-black sports teams. I heard oral stories about the horrible neglect inflicted upon my neighbors, and the Tuberculosis plague of the 1930’s of which several members of my family succumbed. Some might consider this as a painfully sad foundation, which it was not. I had a refuge that was always available. In my refuge I was eager to learn, explore while telling my own story. This task was achieved by accessing books in the libraries of my segregated schools. It was here that I discovered all things were possible. The school library allowed exploration that was limited by the invisible barriers of oppression I would certainly face. Today, some forty years later, the greatest beneficiaries of my youthful apartheid are public libraries!

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