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Charlemae Hill Rollins was born on this date in 1897. She was a Black library administrator and educator.
She was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the daughter of Allen G. and Birdie Tucker Hill. When she was a young girl, her family moved to Oklahoma before it became a state. She was educated in St. Louis, MO., and Holly Springs, MS. She also attended Howard University and taught for a short period of time. Rollins joined the staff of the Chicago Public Library in 1926. When the George C. Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library opened in January 1932, Rollins was put in charge of the children's department.
Rollins led a lifelong crusade to change the image of African Americans in children's literature and promote the publication of books about the African American experience in American life and culture.
Rollins worked with the library director, Vivian Harsh, to make the library welcoming to the multicultural, socioeconomically diverse patrons. Under their guidance, the library hosted discussion groups, lectures, a Negro History Club, and book fairs. In addition to her work with children, Rollins also set up a reading guidance clinic for parents. Many notable black writers visited the library, including Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, and Langston Hughes, with whom Rollins developed a friendship.
She gained national attention in 1941 by editing “We Build Together: A Reader's Guide to Negro Life and Literature for Elementary and High School Use,” an annotated bibliography of children's books about African Americans published by the National Council of Teachers of English. Charlemae Hill Rollins died February 3, 1979, in Chicago, Illinois.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York