Black History Month at McGill

Throughout February, the McGill Community joins many others in celebrating Black History Month.

The 2020 celebrations across the University, city and country encompass many themes. A common thread throughout this year’s themes is exploring the past in order to understand the present and build a better future.

Black History Month aims to celebrate and centre Blackness throughout the history, the present, and the future of McGill and beyond.

McGill’s theme for this year is Rooted, an exploration of the rooted past, present and future of Black history and communities. There are many events happening across campus and in collaboration with organizations across the city of Montreal, where the theme for this year’s 29th edition of Black History Month is “Ici et Maintenant! / Here and Now!” celebrating the voices and activism of young people from the African diaspora.

Poster for Montreal’s “Mois de l’histoire des noirs”, by Lucky Odige

Canada’s Black History Month theme is inspired by the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent. “Canadians of African Descent: Going Forward, Guided by the Past” is represented by the sankofa bird, an important symbol of the African diaspora that represents the need to reflect on the past in order to build a successful future.

Every February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. The 2020 theme for Black History Month is: “Canadians of African Descent: Going forward, guided by the past.” This was inspired by the theme of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

This year’s programming will also honour Toni Morrison in light of her passing on August 5th, 2019. Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon (1977) brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved (1987); she gained worldwide recognition when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her contributions to literature and politics

Toni Morrison (February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019)

The library has created a LibGuide highlighting parts of the collection that support and expand on these themes. This new LibGuide will be a place to find information on all future Redpath Book Displays, from bibliographies to YouTube videos.

In support of the powerful keynote address at McGill’s Black History Month Opening Ceremony, titled “Rooted: Locking Black Hair to Human Rights Activism,” by Professor Wendy Greene of Drexel University, we present a collection of titles exploring the specific experience of Black hair and its ties to culture and identity.

Professor Wendy Greene of Drexel University, delivering her keynote speech at the opening ceremony of Black History Month at McGill

Find books that form the traditional canon of Black literature, as well as new contributions by contemporary Black authors, both American and Canadian. Keep an eye out this March as we add “Dear Black Girls,” by McGill’s Equity Education Advisor, Shanice Nicole (Yarde), to the collection.

Shanice Nicole Yarde, Equity Education Advisor (Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism), author of upcoming book “Dear Black Girls”

We hope you will enjoy these resources as we celebrate, reflect on and honour Black History at McGill.

New Redpath book display: Climate change and the Anthropocene – Don’t lose hope!

Climate change is absolutely the issue of our times. Right now, Australia’s burning, the Amazon’s burning, Siberia’s burning. Indonesia’s drowning. There are avalanches and floods in Pakistan. In Canada, we’ve seen extreme fire seasons in the west, flooding in the east, the Arctic sea ice at its lowest in the satellite record. At the same time, we’re experiencing the world’s sixth mass extinction, and this one’s because of us.

This month’s book display offers a look at the extent of the problem, and because that can leave you feeling hopeless, we’ve included plenty of books on making change. Have a look, borrow a book, get active.

If you’d like to consult the book list (which also contains e-books that aren’t on the physical display), you can find it here.

You’ll find the book display in its usual place, but the books on book trucks while we await our fancy new book display shelving.

You Won’t Get Puzzled if You Map it Out

Nestled in the passageway between McLennan and Redpath, a new arrival is finally bringing cartographers to the table (literally). That’s right, a new puzzle is here! What’s special about this puzzle is that it’s no store-bought piece. This one is custom-made, using a scan taken from the McGill map collection. The puzzle is located at the typical spot, the De-Stress Station, along with the original map it’s based on being shown-off right next to it.

This particular puzzle features a soil map of Australia, completed in 1960 by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Division of Soils. This is the first of what is hoped to be many puzzles made from content in the McGill map collection. If you’re interested, come and take a peek! If the student record is anything to go by, it won’t be long until this puzzle is complete.

While the map collection may not be the most well-known part of the McLennan Library, we still like it. After all, we’d be lost without it.