With the grand opening of the East Side Freedom Library rapidly approaching, members of the ESFL team are ecstatic to begin serving the community. We are also looking forward to “cultivating and broadening” our “relationship with public school leaders in the metro area” to foster a relationship that will “encourage” public school students to “explore projects of the diverse peoples who have made contributions…” to both labor and social justice movements.
The ESFL is also looking forward to the upcoming state History Day competition and is striving to be the “primary destination for public school students” to come and research their History Day projects. Students that come to the ESFL to do research on their History Day project will have access to a rich collection of historical and contemporary literature from every era of civil rights, social progressivism, and labor (working-class) movements dating back to the early 1800s. Students will encounter fascinating titles that include narrowly focused aspects of civil rights such as Jennifer Delton’s 2002 publication Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, which focuses on Minnesota’s leadership role in moving civil rights forward in America and transforming the Democratic Party. Moreover, students will also have access to broader pieces of living historical literature on social problems facing America in the late twentieth century, such as the compilation book edited by Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka titled, The New American Crisis: Radical Analyses of the Problems Facing America Today (1995). By having access to the ESFL’s breadth and depth of historical and contemporary literature, students in the metro area will have the competitive edge they need to create the best History Day projects possible.
The first book I mentioned, Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the Democratic Party (2002) by Jennifer Delton explores how “post-war liberalism” (xv) in the late 1940s changed because of Minneapolis mayor Hubert H. Humphrey’s ground breaking speech and advocacy of civil rights. In the late 1940s, the Democratic party was “divided” (xi), but Humphrey ignited the Democratic party with a vigorous speech on civil rights claiming that America was “172 years late…” (xi) on the issue. Prior to Humphrey’s monumental speech at the 1948 Democratic convention, the Democratic party had been supportive of the South’s “Jim Crow” laws. However, after Humphrey’s inspiring speech, the Democratic party and the people of Minnesota as a whole began to stand up for civil rights and the equal treatment of all races. Delton’s book also discusses how black communities in Minnesota became very pro-active in the social movement to redefine the Democratic party in Minnesota and the vision Minnesota as a state had for redefining the Democratic party.
While Delton’s book is narrow in scope, readers will find that books such as The New American Crisis are much broader. The New American Crisis is a compilation of authors that each discuss a particular problem facing America in the late twentieth century. The problems discussed range from globalization to communities in America that seek to find common ground on social issues that divide our nation such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. After I had a chance to overview this book, I realized that, as a nation, we are still trying to remedy these problems. For instance PhD bell hooks and PhD Cornell West cooperatively write a strong chapter in The American Crisis about how we as Americans should embrace dialogues that address “what divides us, what unites us, and how we can come together around a common agenda to develop a plan for action to obtain economic and social justice” (224). While the conversation points at New York city, the over arching message suggests that we Americans are facing these problems in every community across the country. For example, Dr. bell hooks writes that she is shocked when she travels the country and “young people say, “The civil rights movement didn’t do anything” (228) or that “the sixties were a failure” (228). Dr. hooks comments that “the question we should be asking. . . [is], how did we lose the powerful momentum” (228), and that we really should talking “deeply about the question of White supremacy” (229) throughout America.
Books such The American Crisis and Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the Democratic Party are just a snap shot of the diversity of historic and living history books available for reading and referencing here at the ESFL. Public School students that come to the ESFL for their History Day projects will find a gems upon gems on the shelves that may not be otherwise available at other libraries.
As an experienced graduate student who has done research in many college libraries and as an intern who has cataloged hundreds of titles here at the East Side Freedom Library, I adamantly encourage any student participating in the History Day competition that wants to bring their project to the next level to come and explore the ESFL’s specialized collections. Lastly, I would like to point out that as the state wide History Day competition comes to a close, the ESFL will proudly “provide a place to exhibit and display these projects” for students participating in the History Day competition. Moreover, the ESFL will also “archive regional History Projects,” so that students may enjoy the fruits of their labor for years to come.
Good Luck to all those who participate in the state History Day competition and We hope to see you at the East Side Freedom Library!
Delton, Jennifer A. Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the
Democratic Party. University of Minnesota Press. 2002. Print.
Rachleff, Peter. “The East Side Freedom Library Mission Statement.” East Side Freedom
Library. 2015. Print.
Ruggiero, Greg. Stuart Sahulka. The American Crisis: Radical Analyses of the Problems Facing
America Today. The New York Press. 1995. Print.