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Library celebrating Black History Month

Selma’s civil rights history is as rich as the black soil the town is built on.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many others who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge left indelible footprints on the city. However, the Civil Rights Movement is only a small part of black history, on both a local and national scale. The Selma-Dallas County Public Library is ready to get the word out.

“We love to build on the already present Selma civil rights history,” said library director Becky Nichols. “Not only do we offer local history information, but we want to expand our children’s understanding of the many black Americans, not just civil rights workers.

“Scientists, performers, authors, you name it. Those that have gone before us and just done amazing things.”

Nichols and her staff line walls, shelves and tables with books, brochures and photographs of noteworthy black Americans. The displays take patrons on a visual train ride through the second floor of the library, from the children’s department all the way to the reference department.

“People need to see what’s out there,” Nichols said. “We have found over the years that the best way to get the kids’ attention is just to put them out there.”

The library is also hoping to grab Selma’s attention through two programs, which will focus on Black History Month.

“Hobby in the Lobby” offers people the chance to learn a skill, such as quilting or acrylic painting, from Dallas County natives. The demonstrations take place every Monday and Thursday throughout February and are free to the public. Some will include hands-on activities for those who attend.

“These are local people with wonderful talents,” said circulation coordinator Crystal Drye. “They give from their heart, and it shows.”

Learning does not end when the demonstration is over.

“People can also check out books dealing with these crafts and skills,” Dye said. “Hopefully people will carry something away with them.”

The library will continue to promote Black History Month through its “Lunch in the Library” program. Tinnie and Minnie Pettway, of That’s SEW Gee’s Bend Inc. will speak about their heritage, sing and show their quilts on Feb. 11. Local author Kathryn Tucker Windham will introduce the Pettways.

Dr. Richard Arrington, the first African American mayor of Birmingham, will also speak and read from his biography on Feb. 19. Nichols said Arrington’s biography is timely due to the election of President Barack Obama.

“It’s all about hope,” she said.

The goal of these two programs, along with all the colorful displays inside the library, is to let people know about the wealth of knowledge stored inside the library walls.

“The resources are here for reports or knowledge you need to gain about African American heroes of the past and the present,” Nichols said.