From the Director, February 2020

February 1, 2020 | Mary Anne Hodel
From the Director, February 2020

In 1976, President Gerald Ford became the first president to officially recognize Black History Month. He called upon the nation to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Ever since then, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month, and it’s the perfect opportunity for Orange County Library System to showcase the wealth of talent, wisdom and creativity that African Americans have contributed to the world. All month long, the library hosts special events, lectures, musical performances, cooking demonstrations and film screenings that celebrate black Americans. The largest of these events is the annual African American Read-In.

The event is part of a national movement, founded by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1989, to celebrate African American authors. Every year, schools, libraries, bookstores, community organizations, churches and professional organizations participate in the event by hosting book clubs, readings, presentations and performances that highlight the works of black authors.

Each event is unique. Some focus on an adult audience, while many focus on children. Our event is suitable for both adults and children, and it features local politicians, sports figures, media personalities and community leaders reading from their favorite books, as well as performances by storytellers, dance troupes and musicians. It’s an inspiring event that takes place on Sunday, February 16 at Orlando Public Library in downtown Orlando.

Of course, the African American Read-In is not the only Black History Month programming happening at the library this February – we have programs at all of our branches that feature art, music, folklore, children’s crafts and more. For more information about our Black History Month programming, visit

Mary Anne Hodel, Director/CEO

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