6 AUDITING DIVERSITY IN LIBRARY COLLECTIONS 1960s The Civil Rights Era had already begun by the 1950s, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to protect voting rights23 was an essential part of that. It would take many more years of civil disobedience and nonviolent protest to elicit effective change, including lunch counter protests in 1960,24 the Freedom Riders journey in 1961,25 the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech in 1963,26 and eventually legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which guaranteed “equal employment for all, limited use of voter literacy tests, and allowed federal authorities to ensure public facilities were integrated,”27 in addition to the planned peaceful march from Selma to Birmingham in 1965 that turned violent at the hands of white state troopers.28 This day would forever be remembered as Bloody Sunday. Conflict was not left at home. America was also entering the Vietnam War. Violence and segregation raged during the 1960s as America was attempt- ing to transition to a peacefully integrated society. The book industry was also taking note of the ongoing inequity. Nancy Larrick, an internationally recog- nized expert on reading,29 famously wrote in the The Saturday Review:“white supremacy in children’s literature will be abolished when authors, editors, publishers, and booksellers decide that they need not submit to bigots.”30 She conducted a three-year study of children’s literature and found damning, yet unsurprising, results. Over those three years she studied 5,206 children’s books from 63 publishers and found that just 6.7 percent featured a Black character. Larrick’s study is similar to that currently conducted by the Coop- erative Children’s Book Center however, her progressive examination of the lack of diversity in children’s literature took place from 1962 to 1964. “Inte- gration may be the law of the land, but most of the books children see are all white,”31 and very little has changed in publishing in the intervening 65 years. Larrick’s study came through the lens of a society experiencing integra- tion and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when those unaccustomed to discourse on race found it at the forefront of thought and privilege. For the history of literature, white readers have been able to find white authors and characters in abundance. White characters are, for many, the default and have proved to be so for decades, while white authors are the norm and oft-celebrated. This study served as a catalyst for the development of the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC) in 1965. The CIBC would publish the Interracial Books for Children Bulletin from 1966 to 1989.32 Council mem- bers included book professionals throughout the country, including Larrick, Charlemae Hill Rollins (the first Black president of the Children’s Services Division), and author Langston Hughes. The first issue of the Bulletin ­ featured an important letter from one of the editors, Jean Karl: The responsibility for all of us who are interested in seeing culturally diverse books reach the children who need and want them is now two-fold. First, we must learn to recognize what is good and what is bad in this area of children’s
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