With Black History Month starting, many people may be wondering what they can do to honor and learn about the Black community. One way to do that is to attend the slew of events this month to celebrate the Black community. In Utah, some of those events include the Utah Film Center’s Black History Month programming and all the events being hosted by the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah (see that calendar here).
Many activists suggest that an excellent way to honor BHM (for people who have the means) for non-Black people is donating to racial justice organizations or giving money directly to African-Americans. Another way to celebrate Black history for those unable to attend in-person events or make donations is to engage with media by Black creators and media with Black characters. Hillcrest’s library offers a diverse selection of books.
Hillcrest librarian Dr. Suzanne Riches explained that one of her main focuses with the Hillcrest library is to diversify the selection of books available at the school library.
“I’m really working on our history collection [in conjunction with more diverse fiction]…,” Riches explained. “What you’ll find in old history collections (like Hillcrest has)… [is that] we have a lot of history… but the thing about it is that it centers on white, Western culture… We’re starting to see more and more books that are more global… some more African-American history. We’ve always had a few, but I’m trying to pull some of the old white culture histories and diversifying those a bit with more global and… more culturally diverse [history books].”
Riches suggested reading history books and biographies such as “Becoming” (Michelle Obama’s memoir) and “The Great Bicycle Experiment” by Kay Moore.
“We read [‘Becoming’] for book club last year, which I think we all enjoyed,” Riches said. “It was interesting and fun to read.”
Riches is also trying to get more diverse fiction, both in terms of authors and the stories they tell.
“We pulled up about 250 novels [just] by searching ‘African American fiction’ into our catalog,” Riches said. “I’m sure we even have more than that.”
Riches recommends “Now that I’ve Found You” by Kristina Forest, “This Is My America” by Kim Johnson, and “Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas as good Black fiction for Hillcrest students.
“Kids love fiction, so [we’ve] just been bring in lots of… fiction that has Black teens, African-American kids, like ‘The Hate U Give’ [and ‘Long Way Down’] and telling their story,” Riches said.
Riches also invited all Hillcrest students to come down to the library and explore their diverse collection.