Welcoming UK Professor Reinette Jones for Black History Month – How Knowledge Inspires Progress

Every February, public libraries “celebrate” Black History Month, yet does it inspire positive outcomes in our communities year round? On February 2, at 1:30 p.m., SCPL has a chance to do just that by welcoming UK professor Reinette Jones, founder of the Notable Kentucky African Americans database. This award-winning research tool documents achievements and milestones that ultimately challenge us all to be our best.

Professor Jones’ own accomplishments honor the legacy of Carter G. Woodson, an African American who promoted “Negro Achievement Week” in 1924. Woodson dedicated his life and career to promoting these achievements, and it evolved from a single week to the modern-day Black History month.

In 1915, twelve thousand African Americans visited Chicago that summer for an exhibit highlighting racial and social progress since the Civil War. A University of Chicago alumnus, Woodson traveled from Washington D.C. to participate. Moved and inspired by the event, he organized a national movement. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which focused on outreach and materials teaching black history in schools, colleges, churches and communities. In 1924, the Association created Negro History and Literature Week, which they renamed Negro Achievement Week. A week in February was selected because it is the month Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born.

Woodson opposed the commercialization or “trivialization” of African American history in textbooks and materials sold for purchase, and published the Negro History Bulletin beginning in 1937 and a school textbook. In the 1960s, volunteers teaching in the Freedom Schools during the Civil Rights movement upheld those standards. During that decade, Frederick H. Hammaurabi, founder of the House of Knowledge, an educational and cultural center, promoted the permanent shift from a single achievement week to Black History Month.

In February, SCPL welcomes University of Kentucky librarian and professor Reinette Jones. Author of Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky, at UK libraries, Jones noticed “…we [had] been unable to fulfill requests for a current biographical reference on African American Kentuckians.” She created the NKAA database, “…a continuously updated online reference source that is tailored to the profiles of African Americans in and from Kentucky.”

Describing her February 2 program, Jones explains “There are always a few unknowns in history. Some can be found in the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA).” She will share the stories of some lesser-known persons from Scott County. They include Sgt. Harrison Bradford, who led the San Pedro Springs Mutiny in Texas in 1867, in the fight for fair treatment for his fellow African American soldiers. Lillian Nareen White was the first African American to play basketball at UK, and there are many more. Their stories inspire us to achieve our best, and to do good in our communities throughout the year.

Sources: NKAA database; BlackPast.org-blackpast.org/perspective/history-black-history-month

Archaeology Adventures @ Your Library

Adventure in Archaeology with Jonathan Keith

Jonathan Keith, a Scott County native who is now an archaeology grad student at Utah State University, explains how Cultural Resource Management protects archaeological sites at Scott County Public Library, December 19 at 6 p.m. Keith earned his anthropology degree from University of Louisville, and is completing his Master’s at Utah State.

A profession combining academic and research disciplines, it “…is a combination of white-collar and blue-collar work, with much of it performed according to “…Cultural Resource Management standards stemming from the Antiquities Act of 1906, and National Historic Preservation Act of 1966,” explains Keith.

The standards protect significant sites and prevent “…extensive damage in places like Danger Cave in Utah. Kentucky had an infamous looting incident at Slack Farm in the late 1980s that involved the looting of hundreds of Native American graves and burials; ultimately this incident led to more stringent laws and to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” said Jonathan.

During two digs at the prehistoric Florida Everglades site, he joined a team performing “faunal” analysis on over 100,000 bones. Species ranged from large-mouth bass and alligator to a Florida Water Rat, pig frog and white-tailed deer. Jonathan also worked at the Pepper House, the historic homestead of Elijah and Oscar Pepper, the founders of Woodford Reserve. One of his favorite projects was recording architectural features of the Central Pacific Railroad through Utah, from near the western boundary of the state all the way to Golden Spike at Promontory Point.

Although archaeology is often associated with the romance and swagger of the fictional Indiana Jones character, Jonathan admits it requires adapting to challenging working conditions, like those he endured at the Hill Utah Test and Training Range. “The survey was conducted over a very mountainous landscape highlighted by steep cliffs, scree and razor-sharp limestone rocks in the summer heat, and had very few trees for shade. However, at the top of the mountain we had a great view of the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island.”

This free library program provides an up-close view of an unusual vocation that Jonathan finds very rewarding, as he documents artifacts that tell a story about the rich legacy of our nation’s history and culture.

More Than Books – How Libraries Inspire Connections

More Than Books – How Libraries Inspire Connections

Adams Memorial- By Sharon Roggenkamp

A new program on Cemetery Symbolism, set for Monday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. features Johnna Waldon from Lexington Public Library. Walden, the president of the Kentucky Genealogy Society, considers genealogy a professional specialty and personal hobby. Listening to stories passed along to her by her grandmother, today she studies headstones and their inscriptions. Whether they appear on “big grand monuments or the small simple field stones” said Waldon, they reveal social, economic and historical context.

Two historical footnotes confirm they also inspire moments of shared experience in that setting, and the lives of writer Henry Adams and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt intersected at a famous gravesite in Rock Creek Cemetery in Maryland.

Called the “Adams Memorial”, it was sculpted by Augustus Gaudens (1848-1907), in 1891. Gaudens is most famous for his bronze monument depicting Union Lieutenant Robert Gould Shaw, a privileged son of white, wealthy abolitionists, and the soldiers of the unit he led, one of the first African American regiments in the Civil War, who died together in battle.

Henry Adams commissioned him to create a monument to his wife, Marian, said to be the inspiration for his novels, Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady. A lively, vivacious and popular hostess and photographer, she committed suicide in 1885, after battling depression following the death of her father.

The monument is a stark, powerfully moving life-size statue of a woman shrouded in the graceful folds of a dark black granite cloak, her eyes closed. Soon it attracted ordinary visitors and prominent Americans, including Mark Twain.

In 1918, Eleanor Roosevelt discovered a packet of love letters exchanged by her husband Franklin and her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Devastated, she offered him his freedom, but a bargain was struck between them, at the urging of his mother, Sara, and for the sake of their children. Deeply troubled and grieving, Eleanor drove herself out to the cemetery to visit the Adams memorial, and reflect on its meaning. It is not surprising she later explained she found it comforting because it depicted someone who "transcended pain and hurt to achieve serenity."

A library program begins as a simple entry on a calendar, followed by a phone call, e-mail or conversation with the person who will present the program. Yet the unique thing about a library, is how these conversations branch off in new directions, as in the story of the “mysterious memorial” to Marian Adams.   Best of all, as Ms. Waldon shares her knowledge and experience, the visitors who give up their time to listen and participate will share theirs, just one more example of the way libraries enrich communities.

Remembering Pete Seeger – Spook Handy is “Keeping the Flame Alive” – One Song at a Time

Spook Handy-Keeping the flame alive tour

This free concert brings award-winning folk performer Spook Handy to Scott County, in a celebration of music legend Pete Seeger, who died in 2014.
Handy and his band present “Keep the Flame Alive – Remembering Pete Seeger” World Tour” September 9 at 2 p.m. in the library Community Room.

Below is a story from Handy’s website about meeting Seeger, after Pete sent him a letter asking Spook permission to record his song, Vote.
Thrilled by Seeger’s request, a few weeks later Pete invited Spook to join him in a performance in New York.

“When I saw him there, I extended my hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Spook Handy. I expected him to shake my hand and say, ‘Hi, I’m Pete Seeger.’ Instead,
he put his hands in his pockets, stooped down two inches to my level and with his own bright blue eyes,
aflame with wisdom, compassion, and fierce determination, he looked into mine deeply,
as if searching for something -sizing me up. After a few seconds, he spoke.

“Do you know what Founder’s Disease is? I said, ‘You tell me, Pete.’ He said, ‘Founder’s Disease is when the same people who founded
an organization thirty years ago are still running it today.’ With that said, Pete turned and walked away.”

Seeger, an original member of the folk group, the Weavers, learned his craft alongside Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie and Bess Lomax in New York. The Weavers’ hits include
Michael Row the Boat Ashore and Good Night, Irene. Seeger’s career derailed after he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
Despite the turmoil, he continued to record and perform children’s songs and folk music for audiences across the country.
His popularity and positive civic influence peaked as a musical advocate for civil rights and peace in Vietnam during the 1960s.

Spook Handy’s music blossomed after he walked away from a traditional 9-5 career path, and chose life as a singer song-writer, instead.
After Spook’s song led to his friendship with Seeger, they performed together over 50 times over a decade.

Handy and his band will perform some of the old folk classics, “…and newer songs Pete wrote late in his life, old songs with new verses I have written;
and my own songs written myself or revised under Pete’s tutelage. You’ll also hear some of the stories behind the songs as they were taught to me by Pete.”

While Handy has a good idea of how he will open September’s concert, his play list will be shaped by the bond he and his band form with each new audience. Their passion and energy will connect you to the American folk tradition and Seeger’s enduring legacy – a legacy that celebrates the American spirit in good times and bad.

Spook Handy Concert, Free Admission, September 9 at 2 p.m. in the library community room.