Places that Matter

Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center

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Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center. Elis Shin, 2012
Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center. Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Home of New York City's largest Black Heritage collection
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Located in the heart of the African American community of Corona-East Elmhurst, this library center grew out of grassroots community organizing in the early 1960s. Spearheaded by the Library Action Committee--a coalition of community organizations and churches-- organizers pushed to establish a library that spoke to the needs of the African American community. Today the center houses New York City's largest circulating Black Heritage reading collection, and a special collection of works by Langston Hughes. Since opening day, the library has hosted such luminaries as historian John Henrik Clarke, poet Nikki Giovanni, educator Betty Shabazz, artist Tom Feelings, actor Paul Robeson and author Walter Mosely. The Library maintains the tradition of annual Kwanzaa celebrations, organizes a Black History Lecture series, and hosts an open mic night.

Housed in a former Woolworth Department Store, the center has maintained the building's ground floor display windows. This remnant of the building's former use not only allows a view of the facility from the street, but also serves as a reminder of an earlier moment in history: this Woolworths was the site of a local civil rights struggle to break the color barrier for hiring in Queens.