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Black writers added to author engravings at downtown Indy library

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library is in its first phase of engraving the names of 10 famous Black writers on its walls.

It’s been a long time coming. “105 years later, we are beginning to correct the narrative,” said Dr. Michael Twyman, a longtime patron and the donor for the name-engraving project.

On Friday, the library unveiled the names of African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, American author Zora Neale Hurston, author Phillis Wheatley, writer James Baldwin, American poet Maya Angelou, American novelist Toni Morrison, American historian W.E.B. Du Bois, American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, American poet Langston Hughes, and American novelist Richard Wright.

The names joined a pre-existing display of 76 other literary greats, the vast majority who were white men and a few white women.

Over the years, the library had two opportunities to add more names to its list, and none of them included Black writers until now.

“I think it is phenomenal. Who doesn’t want their story to be told? With all that’s happened in the world due to the pandemic. We have been reading more. We had the Black Lives Matter movement. Exposing people to the stories,” said Iagner Blade, a library patron.

Another patron, Lewis Single, added, “This expansion helps people realize how many great authors there are, who come from all walks of history.”

The project costs $47,000, and plans call for adding the names of more people in a second phase.

For now, supporters are proud of the library’s progress and believes the new additions better reflect the city.

“To have names that represent us as a community and a society can be very affirming. For young people and all people of different cultural identities, it is a way to engage and be more inclusive and representative of the diverse culture in Indianapolis and our country,” Twyman said.