In October 2016, the Diversity Council of Libraries and Educational Technologies produced book displays in Carrier and Rose Libraries that focused on "Understanding Black Lives Matter." The council wanted to provide information on this social movement within the context of national history and racial identity. A list of books that covered topic areas of criminal justice, Jim Crow, racism, and the Black experience - among others - was generated, along with two informational placards. One placard placed the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement within historical and social context, while the other placard offered a preemptive response to the question "Why not All Lives Matter?"
Within 48 hours of launch, the "Understanding BLM" placard was defaced with marker, scratching out "Black" and writing "ALL." This act provided an opportunity to constructively respond in a way that simultaneously acknowledged the emotions (fear, threat) that our community who identify with BLM may have felt, while preserving the act of vandalism for historical and public record. The Libraries constructed a communication plan that promoted the displays, while acknowledging the vandalism, and received generally positive feedback from a large community: students, faculty, and alumni. On social media, tweets supportive of the book displays garnered hundreds of re-tweets and the Facebook post promoting was shared 24 times.
This session will describe the process of creating the displays, responding constructively to opposing viewpoints, and providing support to the JMU community. Ideas for further engagement, outreach, and dialog will be discussed.
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Shorish, Yasmeen; Mungin, Michael; and Shuyler, Kristen S., "Engaging with Black Lives Matter and Supporting Our Communities" (2017). Libraries. 147.