Celebrating African American History

With Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on January 18th and African American History Month in February, you may feel encouraged to learn more about African American history and experiences. The following items were recently added to our collection:AfricanAmericanhistorybooks

African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy: from the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama edited by Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith, and Joshua C. Yesnowitz

A collection of essays examining different aspects of race and foreign relations from the end of slavery to the present. The essays shed light onto the contributions of African American leaders and cultural ambassadors in diplomatic services, as well as answering questions as to why African Americans supported the diplomatic initiatives of a government with racist policies and cultural practices that undermined their civil rights. The volume concludes with a look at foreign policy in the Obama administration.

Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: the Geography of Resistance by Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

Approaching the Underground Railroad through an archaeological lens, LaRoche focuses on how free African American communities were able to help individuals fleeing slavery. She argues that geographical features like waterways, caves and iron forges in the southern part of the free North were key to the effectiveness of the Underground Railroad.

South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration by Marcia Chatelain

Chatelain examines the image of urban black girlhood in Chicago during the Great Migration, specifically from 1910 to 1940. She argues that the vulnerable image portrayed of urban black girlhood symbolized the larger well-being of a community undergoing major social, economic and cultural changes. Chatelain not only draws out the views of the adult African American population, but also references the girls’ letters and interviews.

The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power by Leah Wright Rigueur

An examination of African American Republicans, from the New Deal to 1980, in their fight for inclusion. Rigueur argues that while black Republicans faced hostility within the Republican Party and were shunned by their communities as political minorities, they were influential at various points in both instituting policies and programs and garnering support from outside the Republican Party.


A motion picture by director Ava DuVernay starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the march for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery.

Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle by Martin A. Berger

Featuring dozens of ‘forgotten’ photographs of the black civil rights movement, Freedom Now! shows that African Americans were actively engaged in violent protests. Berger argues that popular imagination focused on the images of black activists victimized by violent white southerners, while images contrary to this nonthreatening view have been purposely edited out of the collective narrative. This book provides a complete look at the actions, strength, and heroism of black activists.

Let the Fire Burn

A documentary film by director Jason Osder, Let the Fire Burn is about excessive police action against the radical urban group MOVE in Philadelphia. On May 13, 1985, police dropped military-grade explosives that led to the deaths of eleven people and destruction of 61 homes in an effort to arrest MOVE members occupying one of the rowhouses in the city.

The Political Roots of Racial Tracking in American Criminal Justice by Nina M. Moore

Moore examines the endurance of racial discrimination in criminal justice and its enablement in the national crime policy process. She argues that the race problem is rooted in an exaggerated public concern with ‘a crime problem’ over other issues facing the criminal justice system.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

One of 2015’s bestsellers and winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction, Between the World and Me is a memoir about Coates’ exploration of race in U.S. history and its present-day implications. Written as a letter to his son, Coates shares various personal experiences, from his days at Howard University to visiting a Civil War battlefield, Chicago’s South Side and African American homes broken by violence, ultimately providing a framework for understanding race.

“Raiders of the Lost Web”



This is a fascinating article from The Atlantic magazine. This article explores the stability of webpages. The author, Adrienne LaFrance, reminds us that “you can’t count on the web.” There are numerous links within this article that are worth reading.  My favorite is “The Crossing.”

If you want to explore this topic even further check The MVCC catalog, or the college’s databases.





The Day the Earth Stood Still


This Friday, September 11, marks the 14th anniversary of the Islamic terrorist attack on United States soil. That day changed the world. Its consequences can still be felt in the on-going threat of other large scale attacks and constant threats to national and global security.

There are numerous research topics that are related to the September 11, 2001 attack. The MVCC library is a great source to use for this topic or any topic that you might choose to research a paper or a speech. The library’s collection of books and DVDs can be a great source of information. Also, The MVCC databases (which can be accessed off campus) are another great source.

Check the MVCC catalog for books and DVDs that will help you understand the complexity of terrorism.

Contact a librarian if you need help finding information.




When something as violent, hateful, and tragic as the June 17th shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church takes place, it can be difficult to know how to respond and move forward. For many, this act of terrorism evoked a long history of racial conflict and violence, and to engage in conversations about the current state of race relations, we all need to have this historical perspective. Within days of the massacre, academics, educators, librarians, and activists were sharing resources on social media connected with the hashtag CharlestonSyllabus. Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University and one of the founders of the hashtag, speaks to the value of this movement:

What quickly emerged in just two days was a diverse community of people from a variety of professions, with divergent levels of historical expertise, all sharing a desire to educate, learn and challenge the prevailing discourse about race stemming from the Charleston tragedy…This endeavor is a work of serious historical scholarship firmly rooted in the African American intellectual tradition.

These resources have been collected by the African American Intellectual History Society, an organization founded in January 2014 to foster dialogue about researching, writing, and teaching black thought and culture. The #Charlestonsyllabus page is an extraordinary collection that includes many primary sources available online as well as books and articles you can find or order through the Moraine Valley library.

200 years of immigration to the U.S., visualized


(Insightful Interaction/Natalia Bronshtein)

The United States as a land of freedom and full of opportunities always attracts numerous immigrants. Due to wars, crises, diseases and poverty, a massive exodus of immigrants were forced to leave their countries of origins and came to U.S. to find a way out in the past 200 years. Where did these immigrants come from? And what is the percentage of immigrants from a certain country? Professor Bronshtein created a colorful interactive illustration of the number of immigrants to the U.S. since 1829 based on the data from the yearbook of immigration statistics and significant events in the world history. Here is the link.

Chicago in Film

Did you know that before there was Hollywood, Chicago was the place for movie making? Chicago has a long history as an important place in the film industry. Movie making began in Chicago in 1896, with two of the world’s first film studios headquartered in Chicago. William Selig’s Polyscope studio, at Irving Park Road and Western Avenue, was the world’s largest. Chicago’s innovative filmmakers developed some of the earliest movie cameras and projectors. The weekly serial was also born here.

Some of the original buildings remain. At Claremont and Byron you can spot this building’s doorway that still bears the Selig symbol.

A few miles away at St. Augustine College, you can find this former entrance to Essanay Film Manufacturing, the most important of Chicago’s silent film studios.


The major studios eventually left Chicago for sunnier climates, but today the area still enjoys a vibrant business as setting and location for many movie productions. It is not uncommon to be able to see scenes from your everyday life on the big screen. You can also borrow many of these movies from the MVCC Library for your smaller screen viewing. This list from our collection includes movies that are important to Chicagoland because they were either filmed in the Chicago area or are stories/histories about Chicago. Here are some highlights from our collection.






If you want to find out more about Chicago’s film industry there are a few really great resources you might want to consult. From the Chicago Historical Society, The Encyclopedia of Chicago covers the history of movie production and movie going in Chicago and highlights the importance Chicago has played over time. The Chicago Film Office oversees filming in Chicago. Their site includes links to casting call information, film festivals, a listing by year of movies that were filmed in the city, and a listing of what is filming right now around the city. For an extensive listing of movie (and television) people, including actors, writers, and directors from Chicagoland you can visit the IMDb website. Lastly, for a guide to 100 years of movies and locations (and quite a few anecdotes), as well the history of the industry in Chicago, check out the book Hollywood on Lake Michigan from our collection.

Local History: Graves & Bones Found in Forest Preserve

This news story caught my eye, Kadner: Graves, bones of Cook County poor found near Oak Forest. Recently, some workers accidentally dug up unmarked grave in one of the Cook County Forest Preserves near Oak Forest. Since our college is on the edge of some of the Forest Preserves, this felt pertinent for us.

Evidently, some of the land for the preserves near Oak Forest were used as a “poor farm.” This was a sort of work farm for folks in poverty who could work to earn a living. The article provides fascinating details of this social program. I had never heard of this, so I found it really interesting. Give it a read!

Good ol’ Charlie Brown

Today, in 1950, the Peanuts first appeared in Newspapers across the country. Below is the first appearance of the Peanuts, Charlie Brown seems to have not found his signature shirt yet!

Who would have thought that a boy named Charlie and his friends would tickle our funny bones and warm our hearts for over 60 years.  As Halloween looms ahead, who can forget The Great Pumpkin that Linus is sure will appear on Halloween night.  The Peanuts Thanksgiving TV special reminds us that its not whats on the table but the people around it.  At Christmas, little wilted trees find homes in the living rooms of those that remember the boy who wanted to give the unwanted tree a chance.

Charles M. Schulz created these lovable characters from 1950 until he retired in 2000.  With these comic strips he brought joy and memories to people around the world.  In our library collection we have the biography of Schulz, which goes into detail not just about the Peanuts but about the man who created them and how his life was reflected in these short comic strips.  Thank you Mr. Schultz, for 64 years and counting of giggles, smirks and thoughts to ponder.

Peanuts in our collection:  Sandlot PeanutsPeanuts TreasuryYou’ve Had it, Charlie BrownIt’s a Dog’s Life, Charlie Brown, Go Fly a Kite, Charlie Brown

Continue reading “Good ol’ Charlie Brown”

Stories of Survival Told Through Graphic Novel: A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge

Nine years ago New Orleans was challenged by Hurricane Katrina.  Many of us remember the news coverage of citizens on roof tops waiting to be rescued, the stories from those huddled with thousands of others riding out the storm in the Superdome, and the haunting images of neighborhoods washed away.

Non-fiction graphic novel A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge portrays what it was like for citizens of New Orleans before, during, shortly after and years after Katrina.  This graphic novel takes on the task of telling true the stories of five individuals who were affected in different ways by the storm.  One stubborn doctor doesn’t think it will be any worse than other hurricanes and refuses to leave.  A store owner stays behind to guard from possible looters.  Each story vividly portrays the thoughts, emotions and reactions these citizens had toward the storm that tried to take their city.  The end of this novel is inspiring and reminds us that those who call New Orleans home met the challenge of Katrina with strong will and a loyal love of “The Big Easy.”

The author of this novel, Josh Neufeld, went down to New Orleans shortly after Katrina to volunteer with the American Red Cross.  Being a comic writer and journalist he took the stories of those he met and turned them into this heart breaking and inspiring graphic novel.

If you are interested in another non-fiction graphic novel similar to this one I would highly recommend Fax from Sarajevo: A Story of Survival.  It tells the story of a family’s struggles during the Bosnian Conflict.

Don’t forget to check out our Graphic Novel Symposium September 18 and 19 (from 10 a.m to 3:30 p.m.) for interesting lectures and fun activities!