Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Long Beach Leaders are Readers: Cordelia Howard, Retired Director of Library Services

Long Beach Leaders are Readers features leaders in our community as they share their recommended reads. In celebration of National Library Month we’ve asked Cordelia Howard, (Ret.) Director of Library Services, to be our April feature. Ms. Howard has shared the following reading recommendation. Enjoy!

Photo of Cordelia Howard, in the Billie Jean King Main Library, holding the book titled The 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

by Nikole Hannah-Jones & “The New York Times Magazine”

They say that history is written by the winners. I am a hard-core, dyed- in- the- wool history buff. My undergraduate degree is in history, political science and geography and I’m drawn to anything that can explain, help me to understand or illuminate “how we got to where we are”. Books that tell the other half of the story. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, which began as an initiative of The New York Times Magazine in 2019, is such a book.

Screenshot taken from The New York Times 1619 Initiative

The 1619 Project brings together through essays, poetry and fiction, the long ignored “other” aspects of our national story. From 1619, when the first enslaved people arrived in Jamestown until today, the book illustrates through politics, art, music, race, economics and much more, the impact of slavery on the formation of our democracy and the its continuing effect on contemporary American society.

This book is not an “easy read” but, it is a fiercely important book. It has become controversial and the target of backlash and censorship. However, reading it leads one to a greater understanding of our America and “how we got to where we are”.

-Cordelia Howard

Director of Library Services 1983-1998, Long Beach Public Library

Part of our Long Beach Leaders are Readers program includes inviting the featured leader to sign the inside of their book recommendation so that future patrons who check the book out will be able to learn about the significance of the book to our local leaders. Keep an eye out for the signed recommendations at your local branch!

Find “The 1619 Project” at your local neighborhood branch here.