By Chioma Ahaghotu
The Free Black Women’s Library is an interactive mobile library that features 420 books of varying of genres all written by Black women. The goal of the library is to co-create space and provide access to the creativity, diversity, and unique brilliance of Black women, through books, visual, music, storytelling and performances. All races, genders, and ages are welcome to donate or trade books with the library during monthly pop-ups.
For the past couples of years, the library has traveled throughout Brooklyn, appearing at vintage shops, museums, parks, bars, and vintage shops.
The library pop ups are linear to by other art projects or community events that bring the books to life, from performances to riveting conversation, music and much more. To borrow a book from the library, just bring another book to replace it, but has to be written by a black woman.
Olaronke Akinmowo, the creator and director of the library, is a Brooklyn-born Nigerian, healer, community organizer, interdisciplinary artists, femme, and much more.
Akinmowo initially intend for the library to be catered around on a bike trailer. However, thanks to donations given in-person or by mail, her collection quickly went from 50 to over 400 books. She is able to bring the books around with the support of her friends and community groups she partners with.
She view books as more than just collections of words and pages, more than just windows into worlds, which is they she stated the library. She always loved books and reading, as a child, she was able to find sanctuary from a sometimes violent home life in the public library, which offered her a safe space.
“I always wanted to do something that uses book to engage community in a way that is not overly academic or cerebral,” Akinmowo said,
Akinmowo was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and Say Her Name, a movement focused specifically on the numerous Black female victims of police violence. These movements helped her realized that many people are still unaware that Black women also suffer at the hands of the state.
The library gives Akinmowo and other people the opportunity to hear many different Black women’s voice and stores in many different ways. The Black female authors that one encounters through the library are speaking their truths, telling stories and controlling their own narratives.