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Independence Day is approaching quickly in the US on Saturday, and it will be an interesting one in the Age of Donald Trump, COVID-19, Social Distancing, Asian American discrimination and harassment and a resurgence of protests demanding that Black Lives Matter. But many of us don’t think about the Fourth of July’s legacy and how freedom did not come to everyone in 1776, the repercussions of which are still being felt today. My vision for 2020 was to have it be the year of my holistic healing, until the pandemic interrupted me. And then the social and racial unrests began. The police...


In March 2020, just before the closure of Brooklyn Public Library’s physical spaces, the Brooklyn Connections team had the pleasure of spending a day at the Brooklyn College Archives with their archivists and a group of New York City school teachers for a day-long professional development workshop on women in Brooklyn. We were excited to be in the Brooklyn College Archives because of their fantastic collection of material about the life and work of Shirley Chisholm; this inspired us to look at material from the Brooklyn Collection that highlights the lives of other women of color in...


The history of Black music in America is essentially the history of American music. From blues, ragtime and gospel, through jazz, soul, rock and roll, funk and reggae, to hip hop, house, techno—not to mention the significant contributions of African-Americans to traditional genres such as musical theater, opera, classical symphony, and choral music—the African diaspora originated and shaped the development of all of the wonderful and diverse music enjoyed here and across the world today. This incredible heritage developed, moreover, despite facing legal and societal injustice and a scandalous...

Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff Chang (book jacket image)

June is Pride Month! If you are part of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LBGTQIA) community or an ally, show your pride with rainbow pom-poms! The History of the Rainbow Flag In the 1960s, before the creation of the rainbow pride flag, the LBGTQIA community represented themselves with a pink triangle, but this symbol had a dark history. Nazi Germany had forced the gay community to wear pink triangles in order to persecute them. One man, Gilbert Baker, wanted a new symbol, one where he could spread love instead of hate. It was a night dancing that Gilbert...

Pride Pom-Poms

As the school year ends and those long summer days inch ever nearer, planning how to fill those hours is no easy task. Luckily, the fine librarians of the Brooklyn Public Library are bringing Summer Reading to the virtual space with the Beanstack app and our eReader services, Overdrive and SimplyE. This year our Summer Reading theme is “Imagine Your Story”, and, if you can imagine it, we have stories for you. Over the next several weeks, our Librarians will be bringing you videos that highlight some of our Summer Reading titles. This week Rebecca of Sunset Park Library shared Weird...


From General Order Number 3: "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer." And thus Juneteenth was born (in 1865) when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved Africans were now free....


Juneteenth Flag (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Juneteenth: A Celebration of Liberation Juneteenth (combining "June" and "Nineteenth"), also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrated every year on June 19th, commemorating the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1st 1863, it did not mean that all slaves were instantly free. It took months, even years for the news to travel across states during the Civil War. Finally after two and a half years, General...


What does remembrance look like? As an archivist, special collections manager and lover of history, a large part of remembrance for me is representation. This and other similar threads are constantly a part of how I think about the work we do at the Brooklyn Collection. Who are we representing? Who has enough, and who does not? I ask this every time I think about a possible donation or addition to our collection. Our current climate and the awakening being experienced by others around Black life and its importance (it is), how history is repeating itself and the renewed calls to remove...

Montgomery Family sculpture

 Record Me A Story You will need:  Smartphone or tablet  Free voice-recording/memo app or program Printable storytelling cards (optional)   Process:  This is a storytelling game! We’re going to tell a story and record it together. What will it be about? Who will the characters be? Will it be sad, scary, funny? How does a story start and end? Press “record” and start your story! Take turns—you can say “what happens next” to prompt your child. If using storytelling cards, take turns picking a card and using...


Wikimedia Commons June 14th is the celebration of Flag Day, which was established as an official holiday in 1916. It marks the day in 1777, when the men writing the Articles of Confederation (a precursor to the Constitution) passed a resolution that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” As new states came into the United States, the flag gained new stars. And here’s an interesting story: In 1958, a high school student from Ohio named Bob Heft redesigned the...


Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967. Image from Wikipedia On June 12, join us in commemorating the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, and in celebrating diverse families. In June of 1967, Richard Perry Loving and his wife, Mildred Delores Jeter made United States history for being brave enough to love, and to marry one another. In order to have the freedom to be together and be married, the two of them had to take a civil rights battle all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  You see, Richard was white, and his beloved wife, Delores, was black. And in segregated...


Celebrate Pride with These Poetry Collections!

LHurwitz, School Outreach Librarian
June 11, 2020

Here is a brief list of books from the last year-ish that transcend Pride Month, and presents a more nuanced, representative and resonant experience of queerness than what is often front and center this time of year. Homie by Danez Smith (Graywolf) These are poems for and about queer black community, friendship, and queer black poet elders. Crossfire: A Litany for Survival by Staceyann Chin (Haymarket) The first full-length collection of Chin’s poems spanning 21 years of work, with a subtitle that references Audre Lorde. NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes From the Field by Billy-Ray...


Many early childhood educators are already struggling to make meaningful connections with their young students remotely in the midst of a global pandemic. Now, in the wake of the murders by police of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery, educators are challenged to find a way to discuss race and racism with young children in a way that is developmentally appropriate, honest, and impactful. This is already hard, but connecting on such an emotional topic remotely with an age group that learns best by seeing, feeling, hearing and interacting– that is a...


June is Pride Month, and what better way to celebrate than reading? Here are a few of our many lists of LGBT2SQIA+ titles created by BPL librarians and by teen members of BookMatch Teen. Let us know your favorite titles in the comments! BKLYN BookMatch Pride 2020 - YA BKLYN BookMatchTeen: LGBTQ+ Pride BKLYN BookMatchTeen: LGBTQ+ Fiction and Poetry BKLYN BookMatchTeen: LGBTQ+ for a fan of Black-ish and Billie Eilish Want your own personalized list? Fill out a BookMatch (for recs from BPL librarians) or BookMatch Teen form (for recs from fellow teens) online and we'll...


There are a tremendous amount of resources flooding our timelines right now to help families navigate the challenges around us. There are no simple explanations for the pandemic, the police brutality & Black Lives Matter protests, or the curfew our city is currently under. We have identified some resources that could help your family navigate conversations around race, unrest, and grief, that I hope will help children be able to find their voice and find answers they have been looking for. BOOKS Black Lives Matter Our BKLYN Bookmatch program pairs patrons with customized lists of...


  Summer Reading 2020 has gone virtual! This year's theme is Imagine Your Story – a celebration of fairy tales, folklore, mythology, and sharing your own unique story and voice. Brooklyn Public Library is here to help families have FUN with reading all summer long! It all begins on June 1, with kickoff events including a sing-along party with Cara Samantha, building castles with ArchForKids, and a performance by the Catpulli Mexican Dance Group. This year, instead of stopping by a local branch, families can sign up for Summer Reading online...


Cynthia Weill treated students at P.S. 139 Alexine A. Fenty Elementary School to an inside look behind the creation of her popular "First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art" book series during a recent virtual author visit. In her presentation, Weill showed students examples of artwork from several of her books, including Animal Talk, which features colorful creatures known as alejbrijes.  She described for students the process in which artisans in Mexico carve sculptures using wood from the copal tree to create the alejbrijes.   One ...


Teens Take the Met, an afterhours event just for teens, usually draws thousands of NYC teens to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a May Friday evening. This year, it's going virtual on Friday, May 29 from 11:00am-8:00pm, and is getting interest from teens all over the world.  Interns in BookMatch Teen, who are trained to give book recommendations to other teens, have created a virtual program that will take place on BPL's teen Instagram account, @bklynfuture. Join us in the Stories at 1:30pm on Friday, May 29 to get book recommendations, paired with songs and movies, and share...

Virtual Teens Take the Met

After singer-songwriter John Prine died on April 7, 2020 from coronavirus complications, local radio stations and media outlets created playlists of his “essential songs”. Listening to WFUV-FM, I heard When I Get to Heaven for the first time. The song, from Tree of Forgiveness, his 18th and last studio album in 2018, begins humorously, but then turns serious. Some of Prine’s lyrics really struck home for me: “I wanna see all my mama’s sisters because that’s where all the love starts. I miss ‘em all like crazy, bless their little hearts.” My mother had three sisters and four...

4 women dressed in black standing next to each other.

I discovered goth music about the same time I discovered Anne Rice. I was in the sixth grade and spent much of my time listening to Siouxsie & the Banshees on my portable record player and summoning ghosts with my Ouija board, then I found the paperback of Interview with the Vampire on my parents bookshelf and never gave it back. I still have it. I still have the Ouija board too but now it’s mostly for decorative purposes. Mostly.  That’s the interesting thing about goth. For a music-based subculture it has a remarkable longevity that spans generations from Elder Goths to Baby...


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