The Brooklyn Public Library has unveiled a new library card celebrating the history, culture, and contributions of Black Americans.

A small crowd of local residents, artists, and library staff gathered on Wednesday morning at Macon Library on Lewis Ave to promote the Black American Library Card. A section of Macon St was blocked off to accommodate the outdoor event. 

The new card, designed by Jneyde Nehemiah Williams, features prominent Black historical figures as C train straphangers. A young girl sits at the center of the vibrant scene reading a book on African American history. 

The Black American Library Card. Photo: Brooklyn Public Library

I want people to feel like they can be that girl again, Nehemiah said. They can be that little kid inside and get that young inspiration back out of themselves.

Her artwork was chosen from a design contest that drew over 400 submissions.

A rising junior who will transfer to Baruch College this fall, Nehemiah said her inspiration for the design came from being a young Black girl who loves reading books and comic books. 

Artist Nehemiah and 9-year old Ruby look at a poster of the card’s design. Photo: Emma Rose for Brooklyn Reader

I want young black and brown people to see themselves in art again, said Nehemiah.

The limited-edition card, available at Macon Library on Juneteenth, is the first in a series of Celebrating Heritage BPL cards.

BPL Celebrates Juneteenth 

Originally proposed by Community Board 3 member Wendy Robinson, the Black American Library Card was created to raise awareness of the African American Heritage Center at Macon Library. 

Ms. Robinson said she wanted to find a creative way to bring attention to the space.

Wendy Robinson addresses the crowd before unveiling the Black American Library Card. Photo: Emma Rose for Brooklyn Reader

Her idea came to life in a collaboration between BPL, Brooklyns Community Boards, and Borough President Eric Adams.

In a statement to Brooklyn Reader, Adams called the project an innovative way of combining the joy of reading with a means of celebrating Black history and culture.

The unveiling of the cards design, commissioned through an open call to local artists, serves as a great precursor to the celebration of Juneteenth, and its focus on African American freedom and cultural awareness, Adams said.

The unveiling event officially kicked off BPLs Juneteenth programming. Planned events include live music, arts and crafts, storytelling, and lectures.

Nehemiah emphasized her excitement about the cards Juneteenth release. 

This is the first [official Juneteenth] holiday, and I get to have a [library] card with people who look like me, Nehemiah said. Im just speechless.

A recording of the unveiling can be found here.

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