Eagle Archives, December 28, 1972: NAACP Establishes Black History and Literature Library | Story

A library of black history and literature is being established at the 467 North Street office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

So far, the library has about 350 books, a number of black periodicals, and several coordinating black history recordings and film tapes. The literature includes several works by and on WEB Du Bois, the black writer, composer and sociologist who was born in Great Barrington in 1868 and whose affiliation with the Communist Party later in life threw his reputation into controversy.

The new shelves contain “The WEB Du Bois Reader,” an anthology compiled by Walter Wilson of East Chatham, NY, the freelance writer and real estate agent who was instrumental in the creation of Du Bois Memorial Park in Great Barrington.

James Weldon Johnson, black author, poet, journalist, composer, who lived in Great Barrington from 1922, and many contemporary black authors are also pictured.

The library is the brainchild of Floyd J. Walker, former president of the Berkshire chapter of the NAACP. He decided it was a necessity after receiving a number of calls from young people looking for black literature. With the help of General Electric Company, who donated the shelves, the NAACP small office library began to take shape. Most of the books, largely paperbacks, were donated while the Pittsfield News Company helped buy more at cost, Walker said.

Now the library is occupied by Walker from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and rumors of his existence are starting to spread. This morning Ronald Jennings of 43 1/2 Myrtle St., the president of his second grade class at Pittsfield High School, was reading there. Jennings hopes to organize a tour of the NAACP library for some of her classmates.

Walker, a 27-year-old veteran GE employee who just retired with heart disease, is still looking for books and volunteers to keep the office open in the afternoon. He said the Western Mass. Electric Company provided several hundred copies of a brochure on Black Americans. He added that he was still on the hunt for a record player and a movie projector.

Walker, 44, became the first black to serve on the local selection committee in 1969. His brother Frank is the current president of the NAACP here.

This story within history is selected from the archives of Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

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