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Library News: Celebrating Frederick Douglass

Why young people tend to idolize February as the month of love, I have no idea. (Well, I do have an idea regarding the “why” - mass marketing. But, that’s a topic for another JagJournal entry).

Intense competition fills the air when the tense build up to that dreaded and loved ritual called passing out the candy-grams, or Valentine grams, or whatever-grams occurs during Valentine’s week. The halls reek with the noxious scents of fear, hope, longing, desperation, triumph, feigned indifference, budding romance, and abject humiliation.

Will anyone give me a rose?

Will anyone give me a Valentine’s Day card?

When the student council representative walks into the advisory classes to pass out heart shaped candies, overcooked chocolate chip cookies, or a poorly frosted cupcake, will anyone have paid the 1,000 cfa to validate this young scholar’s existence? Will this young scholar get as many cards of affirmation as the cool girl or the cool guy who gets mountains of love in the shape of last year’s re-shelved heartbox of chocolates? The struggle is real!

February 14th can be a display of social triumph or simply suck worse than a broken down Hoover. Remember, this JagJournal entry isn’t about love. Well, not the Valentine’s Day kind of love.

Cue the screeching tires making a U-Turn.

February 14th is the birth date of Frederick Douglass. It also lands smack dab in the middle of Black History Month. Instead of spending our money on dried out cupcakes without a healthy dollop of frosting, let’s direct our capacity for love into social strategies to end human trafficking. The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives ( continues to work against the institution of slavery. Douglass himself was born into slavery, and when he escaped he fearlessly advocated against the evils of slavery and for its ultimate abolishment.

These topics of human trafficking may seem distant to us here in the safe and insular ISD community, but keep in mind that not too long ago, our community was rocked by the horrifying images of African men being chained and sold like human chattel in Libya. Our work, Frederick Douglass’ work, is not done. There is still a space where love and radical hope can heal. Viet Thanh Nguyen writes about asking for the impossible. And that impossible request includes demanding an end to human trafficking, and to believe in our loving hearts that our efforts, our awareness, and our action will make this impossibility become that which is possible.

The ISD Library houses an array of books and database materials on Frederick Douglass. I hope the entirety of the ISD community partakes in the wonderful resources that years of librarians have curated for this month. I am the happy recipient of other librarians’ labor and I get to share their curated collection with you.

For those of you who can’t get to the library during the work day, here is an online PDF - Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass, written by himself. Youtube has some documentary style videos of Frederick Douglass of varying lengths. Click through the options if you’re up for some documentaries over the week. The Library of Congress also has digitized the Frederick Douglass Papers including his diary and his last major speech.

For the month of February, please avail yourselves of the resources to celebrate Black History Month. If you need any recommendations from the library during Black History Month, please reach out to Marciale, Jackie, or Stephanie.

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