The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State received the Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters grant to support library programming. The $1,200 grant, written by Ginny Barnes, Madden Library’s First-Year Experience librarian, will support public events exploring the African American experience through poetry in 2021.

“With the Lift Every Voice grant we seek to expand, engage and honor the achievements of our African American community,” Barnes said.

The programming will be created in collaboration with Professor Venita Blackburn, assistant professor of English, and will feature a writing workshop and a slam poetry event.

The grant also makes provision for the events to be in-person or virtual, depending upon the public health conditions at the time.

“We are committed to being innovative and resourceful in how we bring these programs to life, virtually or otherwise,” Barnes said. “In these unprecedented times, underserved and vulnerable communities such as those in the Central Valley suffer even greater hardships. While the future feels uncertain, art and poetry will always be a balm for healing and transformation. Our goal for these programs is to provide our campus with some catharsis through artistic expression and space to celebrate the power of our voices.”

The Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters grant program is a Library of America project funded with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Emerson Collective.