Black History Month | Library resources & initiatives

Every February during Black History Month, we are invited to recognize and celebrate the Black experience, and contributions that Black people have made, and continue to make, in all sectors of society. We’ve brought together some major resources and initiatives the Library offers to help the McGill community commemorate and learn more.

Do you have favourite resources that are not listed below? Please let us know!

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Please note that access to some items may be restricted to McGill users and the VPN may be required for off-campus access.


Virtual Lecture

1919: The Year of the Revolutionary Black Messiah February 10 at noon

The year 1919 marked a highpoint in anti-Black violence and Black resistance. In their yearnings, the Black masses, and some leaders, too, embraced a mystical and messianic form of Pan-Africanism. This presentation given by Professor Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey will explore the dimensions of this racial awakening for Black self-determination in the Atlantic World. More info + RSVP

Exploring stories in the archives & web archiving


Left to right: Beryl Dickinson-Dash, news clipping from McGill Winter Carnival Scrapbook, 1949, MUA 0000-1898-1027C, Beryl Rapier Yearbook photo, 1949 (McGill University Yearbooks, Old McGill 1949), John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Peter Norman 1968 (Angelo Cozzi (Mondadori Publishers), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

In Voices from the Footnotes Podcast the folks at ROAAr (Rare & Special Collections, Osler, Arts, Archives) explore some of the hidden histories at the McGill University Library and Archives, looking at places, people, and artifacts. The library and archival collections are rich and fascinating, but this series flows from the silences and absences that are also present.

Episode 11 – Generations Part 1: What has changed since the 1940s for Black students and staff at McGill? In this episode, we talk with Beryl Dickinson-Dash (now Rapier) and two pairs of fathers and daughters who were students, faculty, or staff – or all of the above – at McGill. Hear about a lot of firsts and the unique challenges faced by Black students and staff in the first half of this two-part episode.

Episode 14 – Generations Part 2: In part 2 of the Generations episode, we shift to more contemporary perspectives. We hear mostly from the daughters, Adrienne Piggott and Brittany Willians. They discuss community, belonging, and safe spaces on campus. The episode also focuses on the fight for equity, and the institutional challenges and obstacles that come with it.

Web archiving McGill’s response to Anti-Black Racism

Staff members from McGill University Archives and Digital Initiatives units have created archive of web content that documents McGill University’s response to Anti-Black Racism, specifically within the context of the 2020 conversations around Black Lives Matter and calls to address Anti-Black Racism and systemic racism. Access the collection directly through Archive-It or through McGill Library’s catalogue.

Quiz that So?! Trivia Game

How well do you know McGill history? With the university’s bicentennial underway, the McGill Library has launched a new trivia game to explore some of the lesser-known stories in the McGill archives. Play Quiz that So?! and see McGill through a different lens as you discover the stories of some extraordinary McGillians like activist and politician Rosemary Brown.



Video Streaming Services

Book displays

Primary Source Collections

Cross-unit collaborations

Pathway to the Library Profession Fellowships for Black Students

The Library is working on a partnership with the School of Information Studies to implement a pilot program to recruit, train, and support people of colour in the field of librarianship. The pilot will provide funding for Black students as Fellows. Fellows will receive a tuition award in SIS to complete the MISt program, a part-time RA position in the Library while enrolled in SIS, and a two-year contract Librarian position following their earning of the MISt. Follow the progress of this initiative and other EDI work happening at the Library.

Program to Support Graduate Conducting Students in the Study and Performance of Music by Composers from Underrepresented Groups

This 3-year pilot initiative is a collaboration between the Schulich School of Music, the Marvin Duchow Music Library, and its Gertrude Whitley Performance Library. The Program seeks to highlight the study of works by composers from underrepresented groups, in alignment with the University’s EDI Strategic Plan and Anti-Black Racism Action Plan. It aims to enrich the educational experience of conducting students and acknowledge their potential to bring positive influence and change to musical performance at McGill and beyond. The successful candidates of the first round will perform works by underrepresented composers including William Grant Still, William L. Dawson, and Ulysses Kay.

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