The Franklin County Public Library has unveiled a collection of books about the life and times of Booker T. Washington, the pioneering educator and speaker from Franklin County. Containing over 385 books, the collection was donated by Booker T. Washington National Monument of the National Park Service, US Department of the Interior.
Timothy Sims, Head of Interpretation and Resource Management for the Monument, said, “This collaboration with the Franklin County Public Library has resulted in a positive outcome for the local community, and most likely beyond, through knowledge sharing. There are a myriad of great African American subjects in the collection and making them available for citizens to study and the books properly cared for by the staff of professional librarians pays a meaningful tribute to the life and legacy by Dr. Booker Taliaferro Washington.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in April 1856 on James Burroughs’ 207-acre farm. After the Civil War, Washington became the first principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School, which later became Tuskegee University. As an author, speaker and adviser to two US presidents, Washington’s past would influence his philosophies as the most influential African American of his day.
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The new collection covers a wide range of topics from the 1800s to the present day, including the history and implications of slavery in the United States, the civil rights movement, the role of black men and women in the military, literary, and cultural history, and works of fiction and non-fiction, including “Walking the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement,” the 1998 book co-authored by Michael D’orso and John Lewis, the former U.S. Representative and civil rights leader who died July 17.
“The unveiling of this collection is now timely as our nation confronts its history of injustice and strives to close the racial divide that Washington has explored in its lectures and writings. We hope the collection inspires people to discover the past, look to the future and help write the next chapter of history,” said Christine Arena, Marketing, Programming and Outreach Coordinator for Franklin County Public Library.
The collection is on permanent display at the library’s Rocky Mount location. “We are proud to offer this rich repository of materials,” said Alison Barry, Library Director. “It expands the incredible learning opportunities available at Booker T. Washington National Monument, which is just 15 miles from us.
We invite everyone, from scholars and students to the general public, to browse the collection as well as the local history and genealogy archives housed in our Mann Room.