Ms. Cheap: Nashville Public Library has calendar full of free Black History Month events

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The Nashville Public Library's Puppet Truck will have performances of

The Nashville Public Library’s Puppet Truck will have performances of “Anansi the Spider” at some of its branches in Frebruary.SUBMITTED

When I heard that there would be a free showing of the Aretha Franklin movie “Respect” at the Richland Park Library branch this week as part of the Nashville Public Library’s Black History Month offerings, I wondered what other interesting programs and activities would be taking place at the libraries during February.

I was happy to find that the library has assembled a full month of fun Black history focused offerings for all ages.

“These include story times, given by Metro Council members and other Nashvillians of color, free movie screenings, special performances of ‘Anansi the Spider’ by the iconic Puppet Truck and more,” said library spokesman Ed Brown.

“The library’s renowned Civil Rights Room – a space devoted to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville – is also open for self-guided tours throughout the month.”

Let’s start with movies.

I love the February lineup of free movies that will be shown at the Richland Park Library (4711 Charlotte Pike) on Thursday afternoons – and yes, popcorn is included.

Former Rep. John Lewis is interviewed in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library in 2016. Lewis, who died in 2020, was a key figure in Nashville’s civil rights movement.FILE

Former Rep. John Lewis is interviewed in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library in 2016. Lewis, who died in 2020, was a key figure in Nashville’s civil rights movement.FILE

The lineup includes: “Summer of Soul” (documentary of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) on Feb. 16; and “Amazing Grace” (documentary presenting Aretha Franklin with choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Watts area of Los Angeles in January 1972) on Feb. 23.

The movies are shown at 3 p.m. on those days and are free. What a fun way to learn!

• The Library’s Puppet Truck is also participating in the Black history month schedule with its performances of the West African tale “Anansi the Spider” at various locations through the month, including  Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Bordeaux branch.

•  “Lorraine, The Girl who Sang the Storm Away” at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. at the main library on Feb. 17, 18, 24, and 25. This musical marionette show adapted from the book by Ketch Secor introduces Lorraine and her Pa Paw who love to play music and sing songs.

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• If you are looking for a craft with a musical element, check out the Feb. 21 DeFord Bailey harmonica making workshop from 4-5 p.m. at the Edgehill branch. Create a harmonica from household materials. The event is named for country music’s first African American star, DeFord Bailey, an early “Grand Ole Opry star” who played innovative harmonica music.

• Visit the main library’s Civil Rights Room, with its extensive collection of books, artifacts, photographs and oral histories from the Civil Rights Movement. It features prominent figures from the Movement such as Diane Nash, Rep. John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Civil Rights Room is inside the Nashville Room on the second floor of the main library at 615 Church St. It is available during all open hours of Main Library.

The Civil Rights Room overlooks the intersection of Church Street and Seventh Avenue North, where nonviolent protests against segregated lunch counters took place. Visitors can sit at the symbolic lunch counter and read the “Ten Rules of Conduct” carried by the protesters during the sit-ins.

“Black History Month is a special time, for us and for everyone,” said interim library director Terri Luke. “We hope Nashvillians will join us for special exhibits, family events, and all we have planned for February. It’s a privilege for us as a library to serve as a community-building place as we all celebrate Black History Month.”

For details on all of the programs, go to library.nashville.org/aahm

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on Talk of the Town on NewsChannel5. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap

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