Monday, January 17, 2011
A Tribute to Ruth Brown on MLK Day
I came across the postcard above which shows the library of the Piney Woods School in Mississippi and it reminded me of Louise S. Robbins' wonderful book The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship and the American Library (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000). After Ruth Brown was dismissed as Director of the Bartlesville (Oklahoma) Public Library in 1950 for the inclusion of certain materials in the library and her involvement with the civil rights movement, she worked for a time as the librarian of Piney Woods School. In Robbins' book she quotes Brown on how she decided to take the position at Piney Woods School: "I had lost my 30 years' position as Public Librarian in a Border Town because I became most actively interested in the Negroes of this town and, unlibrarian like couldn't 'keep my mouth shut' or my actions from showing. The last straw was probably asking to be served, with two lovely Negro high school teachers, at a drugstore." Brown described her three years at Piney Woods School as "the wonderful experience of my life." Both Ruth Brown and Louise Robbins have been designated as Oklahoma Library Legends by the Oklahoma Library Association.