African American history spotlighted at Central Library

Scott Ellsworth

A lecture related to little-known African American sports history will lead off a series of events celebrating African American History Month at the Central Library. On Feb. 7, historian Scott Ellsworth will discuss his research uncovering a secret basketball game played between segregated teams during World War II. Ellsworth’s talk will begin at 4:10 p.m. in the Community Room.

Ellsworth is the author of The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph. He teaches history at the University of Michigan and has written extensively on racial issues in American life in The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine, among other publications. One of his areas of interest is teaching students oral history techniques. After Ellsworth’s talk, there will be a question-and-answer session with Andrew Maraniss, author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, followed by a reception.

The ongoing series of brown bag lunches hosted by the library resumes Feb. 15 when librarian Deborah Lilton will discuss rare collections from Vanderbilt’s IMPACT series. Historic documents from previous symposiums will be on display. Founded in 1964, IMPACT is one of the oldest university lecture programs of its caliber in the nation. Lilton serves as librarian for African American and Diaspora studies and English. Her presentation will be from noon to 1 p.m. in Sarratt 327. The brown bag series is co-sponsored by the Office of Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence.

“The partnerships fostered with the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries and campus partners within the Dean of Students have bridged the gap of history and learning for our future scholars, faculty and staff,” said Tyler Hodges, program coordinator for Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence. “The special collections housed steps away from our student center are truly treasures for this community and are deserving of a platform as well as our attention. I can only hope that more events such as those upcoming bring a newfound level of awareness and engagement.”

On Feb. 28 Central Library will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on African American history and civil rights from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Special Collections. No prior editing experience is required; experienced editors will teach participants how to edit. Lunch will be provided along with a short tour by Kathy Smith, associate university archivist, of the cases related to civil rights in the new exhibit “Distinctive Collections.”

All three programs are free and open to the public. For more information, email Mary Anne Caton.

Mary Anne Caton contributed to this article.