Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ruth Brown and Oklahoma Black History

One year ago today, a statue of Miss Ruth Brown was unveiled at the Bartlesville Public Library. In 1950, Ruth W. Brown, librarian at the Bartlesville Public Library, was dismissed from her job after thirty years of exemplary service. This was during the McCarthy era and the reason given was that she had circulated subversive materials. Actually Brown was fired because she was active in a group affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality. On her own time, she had accompanied two African American friends to the local drug store and asked to be served.

You can read more about the effort to memorialize Miss Brown on the Bartlesville Women's Network blog here and also here. (Also check out the Bartlesville Women's Network website here.)

Besides the B'ville Women's Network, this memorial came about through the work of author and Oklahoma library legend Louise S. Robbins. The first woman elected to the Ada City Council (where she also served as mayor), Robbins has been honored with numerous awards for her articles and books dealing with the history of librarians and intellectual freedom in the United States. Her best known work is The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000). One Amazon.com review of Robbins book gives more history about Ruth Brown's life here.

No comments:

Post a Comment