Norman Central Library to celebrate Black History Month with 'crowns'

Feb. 23—Norman Public Library Central will host its annual Crowns Tea Celebration from 2-4 p.m. today.

The event is free to the public and will feature activities on each floor of the library, 103 W. Acres St., in recognition of Black History Month.

The tea celebration was inspired by the photography book "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats," by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry. It provides a look into the lives of black women who attend church wearing hats.

"The book was really a celebration of culture for African American women in different church communities," said Joshua Caudill, librarian at Norman Public Library Central.

Charlotte Gordon, a longtime collaborator of the event and local educator, said the event is for everyone, regardless of background.

"I think that no matter who you are, no matter what ethnicity, we can all come together and have fun," she said. "We don't have to talk about politics or social class. We can come to each other and enjoy each other's company on a level footing."

The event, funded by the Norman Arts Council and the Friends of the Norman Library, will include portrait photography.

Those who do not bring a hat will be able to borrow one.

Guests will be treated to musical performances, book displays, art installations, refreshments and activities for those of all ages.

"The library is trying to support Black people and be a safe space for them to engage with all of our resources and collection," Caudill said. "This year, we invited a panel of community members, because we really wanted to just get some more community buy in and feedback."

Librarians, in different sections of the building, have pulled books on topics relating to black history, culture, literature, and studies.

Caudill said the initiative is part of the library's greater goal to promote diversity.

"We really want to be community champions and bring the partners alongside to help us plan their events," she said. "That's a long way in solidifying those relationships."

This year's theme is "Hair: A celebration of identity," and the library has invited a panel of historians and anthropologists who will navigate different aspects relating to black people's hair.

"We put out a post asking people to post themselves on their favorite hair days, and the days they feel most confident," Caudill said.

For more information about the 2023 Crowns Tea Celebration, visit