Had a lovely time visiting Washington DC last week, mostly for ALA’s annual convention, but not completely. Some highlights:
- Visiting the United States Holocaust Museum. I was last there when it opened, but am now contemplating telling my father’s story (who came from Germany in 1936 at age 14) and wanted to see specifically how the museum presented the rise of the Third Reich. Took a ton of pictures and was especially interested in the other visitors. They were respectful and quiet in a way that indicated horror. When resting in the atrium afterward spoke with an older black woman who spoke of having long wanted to come because of the connected stories between blacks and Jews. Sadly this is a museum more timely and necessary than ever.
- The Coretta Scott King Award’s 50 Anniversary at the Library of Congress. This was extraordinary, the highlight of my time in DC. I had last been at the Library in 1998 when I was part of the American Memory Fellows program. Among other wonderful experiences we had lunch in the Jefferson building’s hall, but being there this time at night was incredible. It began with a program that was powerful start to finish. Among the many luminaries who spoke (there were many more in the audience) were Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, Jackie Woodson, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Kwame Alexander. This was followed with a reception in the hall that was brilliant because of light and attendees. A night to savor and remember. (FYI, be sure to check out the Horn Book Magazine’s Special Issue on the CSK at 50.)
- The Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast — as always, moving and unique, the speeches all the more heartfelt and important in these hard times.
- The Pura Belpré Award Ceremony. Each honoree spoke with pain and hope about their work and the current horrific situation on our borders.
- The Caldecott– Newbery— Legacy Awards Banquet. A memorable evening with outstanding speeches from Caldecott winner Sophie Blackwell and Newbery winner Meg Medina. For me it was Christopher Myers’ Legacy Award speech on behalf of his departed father, the one and only Walter Dean Myers, that stood out the most. The printed version is wonderful, but Chris had more to say during his speech. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
- A visit to the National Portrait Gallery where I was engrossed by the Obama portraits and other exhibits as well such as ” The Struggle for Justice.“
- A visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum full of iconic art and the exhibit “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975,” Having been a young activist during those years this exhibit really hit home for me.
Thank you to all who hosted me, gave me sustenance (both for the heart and body), and made me feel hopeful about our future even in these dark, dark times.