HARLEM — The Public Library is celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, not in the neighborhood, but at their 42nd Street branch.
On Monday, the library on Fifth Avenue hosted an anniversary gala at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. On Tuesday and Wednesday they imported selected items from the research library on 135th Street and set up a special exhibit.
The collection includes the manuscript from Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” Malcolm X’s journal and Qur’an, and telegrams from Langston Hughes congratulating Lorraine Hansberry on her A Raisin in the Sun opening night.
“For 90 years, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has stood in Harlem as the world’s greatest library and repository dedicated to the black experience, with millions of unique and irreplaceable manuscripts, photographs, rare books and more,” Tony Marx, the president of the public library, said in a statement.
The research library — named after Arturo Schomburg who started the collection in the 1920s and later sold it to the library — has more than 10 million items that people are free to browse through including photographs, transcripts, rare books, and moving images. Their collection includes the world’s largest collection of “Green Books,” which were annual guidebooks for African American travelers during the Jim Crow era.
Scholars, students, and artists have discovered hidden gems in its extensive collection since 1925.
As part of the center’s 90th anniversary, they are opening two exhibits on Oct. 1. Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination looks at Afrofuturism and diasporan cultural production. Black Suburbia: From Levittown to Ferguson is an introspective into the historical dynamics of suburban life.
“I could not be more proud to lead this amazing institution and its talented and dedicated staff,” said director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad.