…the First Twenty-Five Years of the California Librarians Black Caucus
November 1971 Elizabeth Martinez-Smith presented a resolution to CLA Council in support of Black librarians’ FEPC suit against Los Angeles County Public Library and joined forces with three African Americans on CLA Council — Kathryn P. Carr, Hermia M. Justice, and Effie Lee Morris — to pass this resolution.
March 1972 A group of concerned Librarians met in San Francisco to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Black Caucus of California Librarians.
May 1972 First organizing meetings held simultaneously in Northern and Southern California.
November 1972 First statewide organizing meeting of both northern and southern groups held at the California Library Association Conference in Anaheim. Working committees established.The name, CALIFORNIA LIBRARIANS BLACK CAUCUS, officially adopted by the statewide group. Through CLBC efforts, CLA passed two resolutions:
- In support of the Black Librarians’ FEPC Lawsuit against Los Angeles County Public Library.
- Assurance that a definite percentage of minority groups will be represented on CLA Council.
CLBC submitted candidates for CLA elections.
December 1972 On behalf of CLBC, Barbara Anderson presented a list of eight concerns to Ethel Crockett, State Librarian, concerning funding special programs to benefit Black Librarians and Black library users. Draft By Laws presented by Committee of Northern and Southern California CLBC members (Effie Lee Morris, Edna Tidwell, James F. Crayton and Rubye Ballard)
January 1973 CLBC Southern Area supported Lois Edwards Phillips and Elizabeth Martinez-Smith (who were charged with reverse discrimination because of their promotions by Los Angeles County Public Library System). Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission hearings were held from January through March 1973. CLBC members attended these hearings in support of these courageous librarians.
February 1973 By Laws Committee established. Members were James Crayton, Co-Chair Southern area; Effie Lee Morris, Co-Chair Northern area; Rubye Ballard, Southern area member Albert Wheeler, Northern area member.
June 1973 CLBC hosted the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Las Vegas. The program, presented by CLBC Southern Area, featured speaker, Robert Crissman of Black Scholar magazine, followed by a reception with entertainment provided by the Ink Spots.
October 1973 Theme issue of California Librarian – “Does the Black Librarian Make A Difference.” Barbara H. Clark was Guest Editor, with the following CLBC members contributing articles: Tracy Eason (Mochizuki), Hermia M. Justice, Joyce Sumbi, Charlotte Jackson, Margaret Brookfield, Edith Fisher, Rubye L. Ballard, Marion K. Cobb, Eric L. Hines, Rosalind K Goddard, and Barbara H. Clark.
March 1974 By Laws adopted by Northern and Southern Area making CLBC an official statewide organization.
April 1974 First directories of Black librarians in Southern and Northern Areas compiled and printed. Distributed to members.
June 1974 CLBC Southern Area presents its first Authors Autograph Party at Maudelle Ford’s home. Beah Richards was the keynote presenter.
November 1974 Annual Report by Kathryn P. Carr indicates that Caucus members were nominated for CLA Council and three were elected for the term 1974-1977. The Training and Recruitment Committee held a seminar for potential librarians and two librarians were successful in securing positions. The Surveys Committee gathered data and compiled A Report on the Southern California Minority Employees Survey. Audrey Ann Criss of Inglewood Public Library received a $3,760 scholarship from the State Library through LSCA funds.
November 1974 At the 1974 CLA Conference in San Diego, CLBC launched its most ambitious CLA program to date:
- a panel discussion on implementing affirmative action;
- an outreach activity of bussing elementary school children to the Conference for storytelling and to meet Black and Mexican American librarians;
- a banquet presenting Dr. Charles W. Thomas III, “The Father of Black Psychology,” and honoring author, Ernest J. Gaines (The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman).
June Fleming, (an African American) was City Librarian at San Jose Public Library at this time.
July 1975 CLBC Southern Area co-sponsored an Exhibit of the outstanding reference books of 1974 in two Los Angeles area libraries — La Pintoresca Branch of Pasadena Public Library and at the Media Resource Center of Los Angeles Southwest College.
September 1975 CLBC Southern Area met with Los Angeles County Librarian to discuss the need for a Minority Services Coordinator. Joins forces with REFORMA. to establish this position.
September 1977 Minority Services Coordinator position approved for Los Angeles County Public Library System.
June 1978 Proposition 13 approved by California voters! CLBC prepares a report for the California Library Service Board entitled, “Effects of Proposition 13 on Black Librarians and Black Libraries.”
December 1978 CLBC hosted a panel discussion in at the CLA Conference in San Diego on “Library Services to Minorities and Proposition 13“. Halbert Watson, City Librarian, Pomona Public Library, was moderator. Panelists were: Yolanda J. Cuesta, Minorities Services Consultant, California State Library; Michael Ishikawa, Los Angeles County Affirmative Action Office; Dr. Fay Blake, Lecturer, School of Library and Information Studies, U. C. Berkeley; and, Dr. Ruby Ling Louie, Friends of the Chinatown Library, Los Angeles Public Library.
December 1978 CLBC hosted a Reception honoring Virginia Hamilton, Ernest Gaines and Clara Stanton Jones. 1979 CLBC Southern Area awarded its first two scholarships to one student at USC Library School and one student at UCLA Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS).
March 1979 California Governor’s Conference on Libraries and Information Services held. California’s White House Delegation included the following (African American) Community persons: Diane Dei-Amoah, Arthur Taylor, Hazel Russell, Kevin Dickerson, J. R. Starr, and alternate, Ida Miller. The Library Delegation included Amanda Williams (Trustee, Berkeley Public Library), Barbara Anderson (County Librarian, San Bernardino), June Fleming (City Librarian-San Jose), and alternate James E. Crayton (Acquisitions Librarian, Pasadena City College.)
December 1980 CLBC presented “Black Librarianship in Changing Ethnic Communities” at the CLA Conference in Pasadena. Panelists were Miriam Matthews (a slide program, “L. A.’s Neglected History: The Black Pioneers”), Joyce Lenoir (“Children’s Services”), Wilbert Hunt and Eleanor Singleton (“Public Library Services”), Sylvia Curtis (“Information and Referral the CALL Project at L. A. County Public Library”), and Carolyn Norman (“Library Instruction in Community Colleges”).
May 1984 innie Wilkin hired as the first Minority Services Coordinator for Los Angeles County Public Library System August 1984 Binnie Wilkin resigns as Minority Services Coordinator 1985 CLBC Northern Area named its scholarship, the “Eunice J. H. Parker Scholarship Award.”
June 1986 After much lobbying by CLBC and REFORMA the County Librarian stays with her original decision to eliminate the Minority Services Coordinator position, stating that “this position is no longer needed.” 1987 CLBC Greater Los Angeles (GLA) renamed its scholarship, the “Louise Jane Moses Memorial Scholarship.” 1990 CLBC-GLA and UCLA-GSLIS received a $27,000 California State Library grant to recruit and mentor African American library school students. Eric Brasley hired as Consultant. 1994 CLBC-GLA amended the name of its scholarship to “Louise Jane Moses — Agnes Davis Scholarship.”
March 1997 CLBC – Greater Los Angeles hosted a conference, “Bringing the Internet Home: African American Access to Information, Communication and Technology,” featuring Congressman Major Owens (NY) as keynote speaker. Program received major funding from the American Library Association, and additional support from the Los Angeles Public Library, the California Library Association, and the California State University Dominguez Hills Library Associates.
May 1997 CLBC-GLA launches its website on the Internet
March 2002 CLBC co-sponsors Frances Clarke Sayers Lecture at UCLA Sunday, March 3, 2002. The lecture featured award-winning author, Walter Dean Myers. In addition, CLBC offered to collect donations on behalf of author Virginia Hamiliton, who passed away the previous month.
Compiled by Joyce Sumbi.
Originally published in the Program Booklet for the 25th Anniversary of the California Librarians Black Caucus, November 1997.