Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join or Renew
News : Programs & Events

Libraries in the Jim Crow South and a Conversation with One of the Tougaloo Nine

Friday, February 10, 2017  
Share |

February 10, 2017
Freedom to Read Foundation
Chicago, IL

Contact James LaRue, Director, Freedom to Read Foundation


In celebration of Black History Month, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) are excited to present a unique webinar: “Libraries in the Jim Crow South and a Conversation with One of the Tougaloo Nine,” on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, at 1 p.m. Central. Join author Cheryl Knott (“Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow”) and Civil Rights activist Geraldine Hollis (author of “Back to Mississippi”), along with artists Michael Crowell and Chapel Hill Library Director Susan Brown, for an engaging and educational conversation on the history of libraries and life in the Jim Crow South.


The webinar is free for Freedom to Read Foundation members and Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) members. ALA members can register for $20, and non-ALA members can register for $25. Registration information is available at


The Jim Crow laws were in effect in the U.S. South from 1890 -1965. During that time, libraries were one of many segregated institutions. Geraldine Hollis (then Edwards), a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, was one of nine students arrested at the whites-only public library in Jackson for attempting to read books that were not available at the colored library. The recent movie “Hidden Figures” highlighted several heroines from the Civil Rights era and there are numerous unsung heroes who contributed to the progress we’ve seen; Geraldine Hollis is one of those heroes.

About the panelists:

Geraldine Edwards has achieved much in her many years of civil rights and community activism. She was one of nine African American Tougaloo College students arrested at the white public library in Jackson, Mississippi on March 27, 1961, for attempting to read books that could not be found at the “colored” library. She has received many awards for her efforts and continues to do the important work of sharing her personal history with groups. Ms. Edwards, now Geraldine Hollis, has written a book about her experience, “Back to Mississippi.”


Susan Brown took her first library job in college, never thinking it would turn into a career. After several years in academic and government libraries, she found her true calling in public libraries. She is currently the director of the Chapel Hill Public Library in Chapel Hill, NC. In her 20+ years in libraries, she has also worked at libraries in Virginia and Kansas, where she spearheaded the first Banned Books Trading Card Project at Lawrence Public Library, which won a John Cotton Dana Award from the American Library Association. She writes about marketing, management, leadership, and libraries at


Michael Crowell grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and now lives in North Carolina. He was a teenager in Jackson during the early 1960s time of sit-ins, Freedom Rides, civil rights workers' murders, Ole Miss integration, and other civil rights history. Michael's career has been as a lawyer, but he also is an amateur painter with an interest in portraits. He is particularly attracted to mugshots of ordinary citizens who became civil rights pioneers. Michael is pleased to bring some attention to the brave acts of Geraldine Hollis and he was a 2016 Special Jury Prize Winner for his portrait of Hollis which he submitted as a Banned Books Week Trading Cards entry in Chapel Hill North Carolina.


A faculty member in the School of Information at the University of Arizona, Cheryl Knott publishes in the area of information access broadly construed. Her book Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015) received  the Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award from the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council and its partners The University of Georgia University Libraries, Piedmont College, and the Georgia Center for the Book. She is a recipient of the Justin Winsor Prize sponsored by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and a winner of the Methodology Paper Competition of the Association for Library and Information Science Education. With ten years of experience as an academic librarian at the Universities of Michigan and Texas, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on government information resources and online searching.

Please consider joining FTRF as an individual or an organization to share this opportunity as a group and take advantage of other educational opportunities throughout the year.

For more information visit us online at or email


 Chapel Hill Public Library's 2016 Banned Books Trading Card

  This portrait of Ms. Hollis was a submission to the Chapel Hill
Public Library's 2016 Banned Books Trading Card project by
artist Michael Crowell. Crowell's piece speaks to the power of
memory, history, art, libraries, archives - and to Ms. Hollis'
bravery. Hollis, Crowell, and Brown will share the powerful
connections they have made because of this project.