2019 African American History Month Programming

34th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Ceremony

“Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major of righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
—Dr. King’s “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a microphone in front of a crowd.Join Cleveland Public Library in honoring the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This commemorative celebration will feature performances from Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s All-City Arts Drum Line, Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word, and vocalist group Harmony.

Monday, January 21 at 1pm (doors open at noon)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch, 1962 Stokes Boulevard


 Author Visit: Anthony Ray Hinton, Author of The Sun Does Shine

After spending 30 years on death row for crimes he did not commit, Anthony Ray Hinton is now the author of The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Hinton speaks widely on prison reform, the power of faith, and forgiveness.


Saturday, February 9 at 2pm
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 525 Superior Avenue


 Uptight Movie Screening and Panel Discussion

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Jules Dassin’s film, Uptight, filmed on the east side and involving many of Cleveland’s own. Following the film screening, a panel including James Robenalt, Cleveland attorney and author of Ballots and Bullets: Black Power Politics and Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland, along with Blaxploitation film expert and author Josiah Howard, will discuss the movie’s importance and its ties to the urban turmoil that occurred in 1960s Glenville. Boxed lunches will be provided.


Tuesday, February 12 at Noon
Glenville Branch, 11900 St. Clair Avenue


 NEA Big Read: Writing Workshop

The 2019 NEA Big Read book selection is Citizen: An American Lyric, a book-length poem by Claudia Rankine. According to Bookforum, Rankine’s work is “an anatomy of American racism in the new millennium.” Citizen was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry and winner of the NAACP Image Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. It was also named one of the best books of the year by numerous media outlets, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and Publisher’s Weekly.

The Personal is Political: A Writing Workshop

As part of Big Read 2019, Cleveland Public Library will host “The Personal is Political,” a free writing workshop held on two Saturdays at the Carnegie West Branch. In this workshop, participants will use Rankine’s work as inspiration, write about social inequity, and discuss one another’s writing in a supportive atmosphere.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. NEA Big Read Cleveland is presented in partnership with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning.

Saturdays, Feb 23 & Mar 2 from 2–4pm
Carnegie West Branch, 1900 Fulton Rd.