Columbia University Libraries Participates in a National Day of Racial Healing

January 18 is recognized as the National Day of Racial Healing, part of a larger movement for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT), which is a political and cultural framework developed by Dr. Gail Christopher and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. TRHT is embraced by more than 300 organizations in the academic, artistic, civic, and faith communities calling for the establishment of a U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. Libraries and archives participate this movement to advance a more just and equitable society by bringing our expertise, our collections, and our relationships to advance truth for teaching and scholarship, remembrance, community building, and healing.

The Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association, and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) – all organizations to which Columbia University Libraries belongs – have issued a joint statement calling for libraries and archives to observe the occasion. SAA has put together resources on community archives and reparative work. Among the suggestions for honoring the day is to spend an hour listening, watching, and reading with intention.

In keeping with this idea, Libraries staff compiled an hour-long Spotify playlist of recorded songs that portray a movement. The playlist includes the following songs for listening on other platforms:

  • “This Is America,” Childish Gambino
  • “Living for the City,” Stevie Wonder
  • “People Get Ready,” Curtis Mayfield
  • “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” Nina Simone
  • “Oh Freedom!,” The Golden Gospel
  • “Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday
  • “Freedom,” Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton
  • “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke
  • “Symphony No. 2 in G Minor, ‘Song of a New Race,'” William Grant Still
  • “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron
  • “Long Walk to D.C.,” The Staple Singers
  • “Alabama,” John Coltrane
  • “O-o-h Child,” The Five Stairsteps
  • “What Going On,” Marvin Gaye
  • “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” Tracy Chapman
  • “Revolution (Parts 1 and 2),” Nina Simone

Additionally, Columbia has worked for several years on a major project to digitally preserve unique audio and video recordings among the Libraries’ holdings. Spending an hour (or more) listening to the voices and stories of civil rights leaders is a meaningful way to honor the movement for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation – any day of the year. Here are just a few: