Skip to Main Content

A Research Guide to Black Librarianship at the Schomburg Center: Black Librarianship and Social Justice

Library Activism

Desegregating Libraries in the South

Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)

As described on the website of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), "As far back as the 1930s, a small number of Black librarians would gather in hotel rooms at ALA Conferences about the injustice they experienced at work and the lack of leadership opportunities for them. Under the suggestion of Effie Lee Morris, Black librarians met at the 1968 Annual conference to discuss their concerns about not having a voice in the ALA. At a meeting in 1969, it was decided by several Black librarians that ALA was not serving the needs of Black Library professionals, and the Black Caucus was formed to address concerns. The following year, E.J. Josey – a member of the ALA Nominating Committee wanted to find qualified Black candidates and socially responsible white candidates to run for Council in the 1971 election. Josey sent out letters inviting all African American librarians to attend the 1970 Mid-Winter meeting to discuss a candidate they would support. In 1970 BCALA was founded at ALA Mid-Winter by Effie Lee Morris, Dr. E.J. Josey, Thomas E. Alford Sr. and a few others. Dr. Josey was elected the first chairperson of BCALA.

The first two goals of the organization were to present a formal Statement of Concern to the ALA and to submit a resolution to the ALA Council that would ensure libraries and librarians providing materials and services to private segregated schools that were formed in order to avoid integration."

The Schomburg Center has collected numerous items documenting the history and work of this organization, some example available from the Research and Reference Division include: 

Black caucus of ALA newsletter

BCALA Conference Proceedings

Membership Directories

BCALA clippings.