BCALA History

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 first chairperson of BCALA.

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

In 1992 the Black Caucus became formally affiliated with ALA and a scholarship fund named after E.J. Josey was created to provide African Americans with financial assistance to pursuit a graduate level library and information studies degree. This year also marked the first National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL). In 1995 the group celebrated its 25th anniversary and revised its mission statement to read as it currently does today. The 40th anniversary was celebrated in 2010 and we acknowledged the 50th anniversary in 2020.

Past Presidents

E.J. Josey 19701971+

William D. Cunningham 19711973 +

James R. Wright 19731974

Harry Robinson, Jr. 19741976

Avery Williams 19761978

Dr. George C. Grant 19781980

Doreitha R. Madden 19801982 +

Robert L. Wright 19821984

Barbara Williams Jenkins 19841986

Marva L. DeLoach 19861988

Edith M. Fisher 19881990

John C. Tyson 19901992 +

D. Alex Boyd 19921994 +

Stanton F. Biddle 19941996

Sylvia SprinkleHamlin 19961998 +

Gregory Rees 19982000

Gladys Smiley Bell 20002002

Bobby Player 20022004

Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako) 20042006

Wanda Brown 20062008

Karolyn S. Thompson 20082010

Jos N. Holman 20102012

Jerome Offord, Jr 20122014

Kelvin A. Watson 20142016

Denyvetta Davis  2016-2018

Richard E. Ashby, Jr. 2018 – 2020

Shauntee Burns-Simpson, 20202022

(+ Deceased