EXCLUSIVE: Inside Highland Park’s Black History Collection
HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) – Residents in Highland Park are still fuming over the dumping of thousands of black history and culture books.
Highland Park School District’s state-appointed emergency manager Donald Weatherspoon said the district’s collection of black history books, tapes, film strips and other materials were found discarded outside its high school library last month.
Weatherspoon said workers clearing out the second floor of the library to make way for offices which will house district officials mistakenly threw the collection out, adding that the books and other materials were recovered in time.
Still, protestors are furious about the mix-up and believe that some of the collection was destroyed. Linda Wheeler is heading a group of protestors who tried unsuccessfully to rescue the remaining books.
“They barred us entrance. They said we were interfering with the children’s’ learning, students’ learning,” she said. “How can students learn without books? I’d like to know. Whoever heard of a school without a library?”
Weatherspoon allowed WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas inside the high school to see what is left of the collection — which included an autographed copy of a book by Cab Calloway and several yearbooks that date back to 1914.
Officials are now trying to determine what will happen to the collection. Many residents, like Wheeler, want the books to stay in the city.
“Archives that belong to the city of Highland Park and to the students, they’re holding them. We don’t know what’s going to happen with them. They’ve dumped over 10,000 books already. [The books] are not safe and it is not right,” she said.
On Monday, protestors brought traffic to a standstill on Woodward Ave. in front of the school for about 15 minutes in what they called a “Slowdown in Motown, Highland Park Style.”