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Meet real life "Hidden Figure" civil rights activist Geraldine Hollis

The public library is an institution that prides itself on being a place open to all, but that wasn't always the case.

In celebration of the grand opening of the John Doar History trail, Friday Memorial Library, WITC and Table 65 are excited to present a unique opportunity to meet Geraldine Hollis, one of the "Tougaloo Nine" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at the WITC New Richmond campus.

Imagine walking into your local public library and being told, "No, you can't be here. No, you can't check out those books." That's what life was like for millions of black men, women and children who lived in the south during the time of segregation.

Join author and civil rights pioneer Geraldine Hollis (author of "Back to Mississippi" and "March Memories") for an engaging and enlightening conversation on the history of what life was like in the Jim Crow South.

The Jim Crow laws were in effect in the southern United States from 1890-1965. At the time, libraries were one of many segregated institutions. Geraldine Hollis (then Edwards), a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, was one of the nine students arrested at the white-only public library in Jackson for attempting to read books that were not available at the colored library.

Hollywood recently highlighted several heroines from this time with the film adaptation of "Hidden Figures." There are numerous unsung heroes who contributed to progressing the civil rights movement. Hollis is one of those heroes.

The library will also be hosting a family book club for the month of August. Several copies of "Hidden Figures" are available, including copies of the adult and young readers' edition. Join the library for a film screening of "Hidden Figures" at the Old Gem Theater on Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. and for a discussion on the book on Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. at the Library. "Hidden Figures" is the true story of the African American female mathematicians who helped launch John Glenn into orbit and America into the space age. Funding for the family book club is partially provided through a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council.

These events are part of the August 2017 John Doar History Trail Community Celebration. Doar was a New Richmond native who served in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice from 1960 to 1967 and rose to the position of assistant attorney general, or top lawyer, in charge of the Division. He later served as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Richard Nixon. In 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to advancing Civil Rights in the United States. There will be several events, including a community potluck, panel discussions and a movie viewing starting Aug. 24, leading up to the trail's grand opening Aug. 26. All events are free and open to the public.

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