Free Black Women’s Library celebrated its Los Angeles launch Saturday night at the Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood with the performances by eight black female poets.
The featured local poets were Amoni Thompson-Jones, bridgette bianca, Camari Carter, Iman Milner, Jessica Gallion aka YELLAWOMAN, Nadia Hunter Bey, Shakira Peterson, and Shonda Buchanan.
The party started with a networking hour for attendees to bond over literary happenings in the coffeehouse that’s quickly becoming a haven for similar events. A live artist, Brittney Price, painted a piece she later donated to the cause. Quotes were pasted on the glass from black women writers such as bell hooks, Octavia Butler, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Ntozake Shange. Bouquets of flowers sat on the tables with most attendees sitting in seats in front of the window that provided a backdrop of the sunset with painted skies for the poets as they recited their melodies.
As each poet spilled her soul to the crowd, applause naturally erupted. The poems magnified the black woman experience from different perspectives. For example, bridgette bianca and Camari Carter mentioned the death of six adopted black children killed by their white lesbian mothers where one drove their SUV over the cliff in Mendocino County, a story forgotten in the constantly ticking news cycle. YELLAWOMAN lyrically spoke about her experience as a light-skinned woman with Louisiana roots while Shonda Buchanan played a drum and chanted a song before her poetry to honor her African-American and American-Indian roots.
The library’s goal is to compensate black women for their artistry while collecting #300BlackWomenBooks, or 300 books authored by black women, by June. Donations will be accepted at subsequent events and this address: 5350 Wilshire Blvd P.O. Box #36618 Los Angeles, CA 90036.
The original branch of the library was created in 2015 by Ola Ronke Akinmowo in Brooklyn, New York, the same year and place where Well-Read Black Girl began. The idea is to provide “a free, feminist pop-up library and book swap with Black women writers at the center,” as its mission states.
Asha Grant, the director of the Free Black Women’s Library LA, was the mistress of ceremonies at the launch party. She said she recently moved back to the LA area and wanted to bring Akinmowo’s mission here.
The next event has not been announced yet but Grant said it will involve interactive journaling with sitting on pillows, a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the party.