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Bridgeport Library has Black History exhibit

by Gail Marsh

STAFF WRITER

Residents who visit the Bridgeport Public Library this month will receive a free bookmark listing 25 of West Virginia's African-American authors and one of their works.

There would be more names on the book mark if it were up to Phyllis Wilson Moore.

"We could list many more if they would fit on the bookmark, at least 75," said Moore, the library's West Virginia literary history consultant.

The bookmarks are part of a display Moore designed and set up near the entrance of the Johnson Avenue facility. The exhibit features posters and information pulled from the library's Website, found at www.mountainlit.com.

The display will remain in place during the rest of Black History Month, Moore said.

"The library's Website has been focusing on multi-cultural authors, and we wanted to do a special section on African-American authors during Black History Month. It's a much neglected part of our literary history," she said.

People may be surprised to learn that West Virginia was home to one of the best known black scholars in the world, Moore said. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was raised in Piedmont, near Keyser. National Public Television recently featured a five-hour series on Gates and his trip back to Africa to learn of his roots.

West Virginia was also home to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Week.

Woodson was born in Virginia, but moved at an early age to Huntington, where he spent most of his career. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915.

Woodson organized the first annual celebration to highlight black history in 1926. He chose the second week of February to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

It was in the 1970s that the week was expanded and renamed Black History Month, Moore said.

Moore has taken the black history display to several schools around the state and talked with students and teachers about the state's African-American authors. She has also lectured on the state's women's authors, children's book authors and on state authors in general.

People interested in the exhibit can contact Moore through the Bridgeport Public Library.

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