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IndyPL’s name engraving project memorializes Black authors at Central Library

04/01/2022
IndyPL’s name engraving project memorializes Black authors at Central Library
IndyPL’s name engraving project memorializes Black authors at Central Library

The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL) has engraved the names of 10 celebrated Black authors outside of the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) at Central Library.

This renovation is the first phase of the Name Engraving Project, an initiative to shine a light on the literary contributions of authors and writers of color who have been omitted in the past. Prior to the Name Engraving Project, 83 names of renowned writers and thinkers were etched into the library's walls. The first inscriptions happened in 1917, with new authors added in 2007. No people of color were included.

“The Name Engraving Project allows IndyPL to use our public spaces to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, starting with the edition of Black authors outside of the CBLC,” said Nichelle M. Hayes, IndyPL’s interim CEO. “By creating a space that celebrates the work of authors from the African Diaspora, we’ll reflect an authentic historical narrative of the world’s literary development.”

The authors were selected by Library patrons and the Indianapolis community at large. In 2021, individuals were invited to suggest names online or via ballot boxes at branches. The 10 Black authors memorialized were gathered from community suggestions by IndyPL’s Name Engraving Committee.

Major support has been provided by Michael & Adelpha Twyman, the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund, and Lilly Endowment Inc. through The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

“As a longtime Library supporter and patron, I noticed the omission of persons of color represented in the names engraved at Central Library. I’m excited to be working with them to address this,” said Twyman. “This project is a unique opportunity to correct the historical narrative by updating this space to ensure that the authors we celebrate reflect the community we serve.”

IndyPL aims to add additional names of authors of color in the years to come. To support this project, go to "Give" at indyplfoundation.org to make an online donation. Please select "Central Library" when asked how to apply your gift and put “ENGRAVING” in the notes box at the end of the form.

Names Engraved:

Phillis Wheatley

Frederick Douglass

W. E. B. Du Bois

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Zora Neale Hurston

Langston Hughes

Richard Wright

James Baldwin

Maya Angelou

Toni Morrison