IndyPL’s Center for Black Literature & Culture commemorates third anniversary

The Indianapolis Public Library’s Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) at Central Library is commemorating its third anniversary this month by partnering with the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper to host an online program and poetry workshop on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. The event is a celebration of poetry and culture titled “On Whose Shoulders We Stand,” featuring acclaimed poet and Indianapolis native Adrian Matejka, along with special guests Too Black, Manon Voice, Chantell Massey and Allyson Horton, along with special musical selection by Joshua A. Thompson, classical pianist and music sociologist.

The free event will be live-streamed on the library’s YouTube and Facebook pages, taking attendees through a journey of poetry’s local and national impact on Black culture, arts and social action. The event will feature poems from notable writers such as Ethridge Knight, Mari Evans and others. Additionally, award-winning poet Adrian Matejka will lead attendees through a workshop designed to inspire and encourage writers during this challenging time.

“The CBLC, even during the challenges of COVID-19, is providing a space virtually for artists and members of the community to gather, share and learn from each other.” said Nichelle M. Hayes, leader of the center. “Globally we have experienced more upheaval during 2020 than we could have ever imagined. Times such as this call for resistance and renewal, for which poetry serves as a vehicle. We can learn a great deal from legendary and up-and-coming poets on how to navigate these times and reimagine a better world.”

The free event will feature poet and Indy native Adrian Matejka, along with special guests Too Black, Manon Voice, Chantell Massey and Allyson Horton. Joshua A. Thompson, classical pianist and music sociologist, will provide a special musical selection. (Submitted photo)

Made possible by a $1.3 million grant by Lilly Endowment Inc. to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, the nearly 4,000-square-foot center, located in Central Library’s R.B. Annis West Reading Room, opened in October of 2017 as a focal point for exploring the Black experience in Indianapolis and beyond through books, art, poetry and history. The CBLC’s physical space combines visual displays with a specialized collection of materials, and its programming seeks to engage the community through topics such as voting, genealogy, art, literature and history.

“It is a true honor to partner with the CBLC, particularly as we celebrate the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper’s 125th anniversary,” said Robert Shegog, president and CEO of the Recorder. “We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us – those bold, courageous, creative and talented individuals. It is only fitting to pay homage to them while also showcasing some of today’s promising poets and recognizing one of the country’s oldest Black newspapers.”

For more information about the CBLC and its third anniversary event, call (317) 275-4100 or visit