AADL: New and ongoing projects address anti-black racism

Here is a list of new and ongoing projects at AADL intended to address anti-Black racism in our community, and support those who wish to learn more. New services and programs will be listed here as they are launched. If you have any ideas, questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us to discuss further.


AADL Black Lives Matter Mural

AADL Black Lives Matter Mural

Following the Ann Arbor District Library’s Call for Artists in 2020, AADL has installed its Black Lives Matter mural on the south side of Library Lane. The community-based project is the culmination of nearly a year of work between AADL staff, the local arts community, and a community review panel featuring Jamall Bufford, Marianetta Porter, and Rochelle Riley. Artistic Coordinator Avery Williamson helped lead the project and contributed art for one of the eight panels, which includes work from seven other artists showing what the phrase Black Lives Matter means to them: T’onna Clemons, Quadre Curry, Demario Dotson, John Rodriguez, Jaleesa Rosario Turner, Rachel Elise Thomas, and Curtis Wallace.

The Library plans to install complementary panels next to the mural to highlight each of the artists involved, and show the original use of the letters through photos from the archives with additional information about the moments and places depicted. The Library also plans to host a dedication event sometime in the summer, and an Artist Showcase featuring works for sale later in the year.

Black Lives Matter Discussion Series (Upcoming Events)

Black Lives Matter Discussion Series (Past Recorded Events)

This intentionally broad discussion series seeks to encourage and support community members in their exploration of and engagement with works that provide insight on anti-Black racism. Titles like White Fragility and So You Want to Talk About Race are intended be introductory texts in this conversation. We do not want anyone to be excluded from this series by a wait list, so these discussion groups will also include works that are available online. Similarly, if one’s busy lifestyle puts finishing a book in time for a scheduled session out of reach, we’ve identified relevant podcasts to discuss. This series will include classic works and new ones, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, movies and music. This project recognizes that anti-Black racism is systemic and woven through the fiber of our society. As such, a broad variety of materials can be used to explore one’s relationship to the theme.

Call for Stories: Anti-Black Racism

As archivists and historians, we know that certain topics infrequently make it into the long-term historical record.  The history of anti-Black racism is one of these topics.  As documentarians of our community’s history, we seek to fill in those gaps with first-person stories to provide a lasting record of this aspect of community life for the researchers of the future.  Some of these stories have been collected as part of the African-American Cultural and Historical Museum Living Oral History interviews, but there are many more stories to be collected and preserved.  As a result, AADL and the AACHM are putting out a Call for Stories on Anti-Black Racism.  We are looking for all stories of times you’ve experienced anti-Black racism.

Black Lives Matter: Call for Artists

The Ann Arbor District Library is seeking Michigan area Black artists for paid commissions. Initiatives include:

Black Lives Matter Mural
A mural featuring the words BLACK LIVES MATTER to be displayed on the fencing along the Library Lane side of the Downtown Library.

  • Open Call: July 17 – August 17
  • Selection Process: August 18-30
  • Commissions: September 2020
  • On Display: Spring 2021
  • Mural Dimensions: 60′ x 6′, divided into 6 to 10 sections
  • The Library will pay commissions of $1000 per section for selected artists for the mural project, plus reimbursement for supplies and mileage for installation.

Black Artists Showcase
We are seeking digital artwork by Michigan area Black artists to be purchased/licensed for the Library’s circulating Art Prints Collection. Accepting submissions through 2020.

Contributing Artists
We are seeking portfolio submissions by Michigan area Black artists for future graphic design projects including posters, print promotions, book covers, signage, logos, summer game art, and brochure illustrations. This is an ongoing call.

How to Submit 

  • Please submit an artist statement and images representative of original work from your existing portfolio demonstrating your style. Selected artists will be paid for commissioned work.
  • For questions, email callforartists@aadl.org or call us and leave a message: 734-327-4217
  • Submit through the online form at: aadl.org/call_for_artists

African-American Cultural and Historical Museum Living Oral History Project

This partnership between the AACHM and AADL creates and provides a permanent home for interviews with prominent Black community members. These interviews serve as a road map illustrating what local African Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today. Now entering Phase 7, this project has so far collected 30 interviews.  The associated LOH Digital Collection presents historical materials from AADL’s Community Collections about major topics featured in the interviews, including Community Centers, Education, Housing, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Faith.

AADL Newsletter Recommendations

Each week, AADL mails a newsletter to over 60,000 active patrons.

This newsletter will feature recommendations for those looking to learn about anti-black racism each week, and work to increase interest in and access to these works.

Black Lives Matter Reading Lists

Black Lives Matter: Memoirs
Black Lives Matter: Teen Fiction
Black Lives Matter: The Legacy of Slavery
Black Lives Matter: Talking About Race
Black Lives Matter: Police Brutality and Injustice
Black Lives Matter: Anti-Racism for Kids
Black Lives Matter: The 1619 Project