Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

by Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez

Arturo Schomburg’s keen interest in documenting the many and varied contributions... read more

Arturo Schomburg’s keen interest in documenting the many and varied contributions of people of African descent to arts, letters, and science led to decades of meticulous, patient work as he searched out and collected books, art, and other artifacts. At first glance, this work is a biography of Puerto Rican-born Schomburg, who worked as a bank clerk in New York City by day, in poems. But it is also history and inspiration and determination. Schomburg believed Black contributions existed and mattered and were worthy of preservation. He was a detective, ferreting out hidden history, as well as a collector and preservationist. Among his many accomplishments was documenting buried histories of African heritage in famous people such as Beethoven and Alexandre Dumas. “Arturo saw that the historical record was colorblind / only when that best served greedy motives. / So when genius was black, skin color was left out. / But Schomburg chased the truth and turned up icons / whose African heritage had been whitewashed.” Schomburg died in 1938. His legacy lives on in his work and in the New York Public Library research center that houses his collections and bears his name. (Ages 9-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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