by Hannah Lane, African American Department
Prior to the arrival of the COVID19 pandemic, when our doors were open, numerous Pratt customers would approach the reference desk in the African American department with requests for information about the Civil Rights Movement. In the words of historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The civil rights movement circulates in American history in forms and through channels that are at once powerful, dangerous, and hotly contested.” As the world watches Minneapolis after the killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police department, this tragic loss of life and the legacies of the Civil Rights movement reflect heavily in the minds of those of us who are concerned with the end of police brutality and all forms of state violence against the oppressed. They are downplayed and questioned in the minds of those who are not. Memories of and arguments about the Civil Rights movement, like Dowd wrote, from 1954 to 2020, from Selma to Greensboro to Los Angeles to Ferguson to Baltimore indeed remain deeply contested.
The African American department wishes to continue supporting our customers as we all reflect on all that has been accomplished by Black activists across the nation, and all that has been thwarted by fearful, angry citizens and fearful, powerful governments committed to racial oppression. This is a selection of documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement that are available through the streaming service Kanopy, ranging from topics such as the activism of the Black Panthers, to the reflections of James Baldwin on the movement, and the leadership of Black women. Forthcoming are selections from our digital E-book collections that we hope readers will find strength and respite in during these painful times. We express our deepest, heartfelt condolences to all of George Floyd’s loved ones. Rest in power, Mr. Floyd.