The books in this collection were recently donated to Rebuild Foundation by the DuSable Campus library, located on the historic campus of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable High School. The library has been a resource for students and faculty on the predominantly black campus for 80 years, including a special collection of books relating to African-American history. Campus librarian Sara Sayigh tends to the collection, acquiring and deaccessioning books as space and resources allow. As books were retired from the library’s circulating collection, Sayigh has arranged for donations of unusual and important books to various non-profits, including the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection at Woodson Regional Library, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.
DuSable High School opened on South Wabash Avenue in 1935, serving a growing population of black students, many of whom arrived in Chicago with their families during the Great Migration. The school was designated as a City of Chicago Landmark in 2012. Distinguished alumni include Harold Washington, the 51st Mayor of Chicago, Margaret Burroughs, co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History, and Nat King Cole and numerous other jazz musicians who got their start at DuSable’s music program.
The DuSable Library Collection has special significance in this moment when Chicago’s public school libraries and librarians are under threat of budget deficiencies. Exhibition programming will address this broader topic as well as the history of the DuSable campus in Chicago’s public school landscape.
Posters made by student activists lined DuSable’s hallways during the recent read-in. Hashtags #SaveOurLibrary and #DuSomething proliferated on social media accompanied by facts about public school libraries and quotations on the power of books. This exhibition continues in the art center at the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative with a display of these posters.