Friday, 24 May 2013

Week 46: "Corner Boy" Boon


In my 34th week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, I welcomed one of our new interns, drafted a deposit agreement, and helped with the Leimert Park Program at the museum.

Back in March, Larry and I interviewed three candidates for internship positions. On account of unexpected expenditures, we could only hire two and we changed the time frame from 12 weeks to 8 weeks. Both candidates agreed to the new terms and we are happy to welcome a public programs intern (Laura) and a public relations intern (Susan) to our staff. Although Laura’s job description does not involve collection processing, I was asked to show her around the museum and introduce her to some of the tasks that our volunteers perform. I set her down with a stack of Mayme’s papers to organize, and I was surprised at her reaction. The dust was wreaking havoc on her allergies, the room was too cold, and multiple dead spiders were more than she could take. I commend her for finishing the task, and I am glad that her normal responsibilities will be better suited to her disposition and environmental requirements. I never thought of myself as one who could do the “dirty” work but seeing as how the grime never bothered me, maybe there is job security somewhere among those dusty papers.

A good friend of MCLM is Ian Foxx, a local photographer. Ian had the personal papers of the author, Herbert A. Simmons, an American author and editor. Ian and Herbert became friends when Herbert hired Ian to take pictures for his newspaper in Detroit, back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Fast forward to 2013, Herbert has passed away and Ian wants MCLM to archive the papers of his old friend. The terms of this accession were not clear to me at first, but another conversation with Ian and Larry cleared it up. The papers would be on deposit with the museum, and Ian would retain the copyright and could remove them at his discretion. The Black L.G.B.T.Q. collection is at MCLM under similar circumstances. When Ian came in to sign his paperwork, he told me more about Herbert A. Simmons. Simmons was one of several black novelists from the middle of the 20th century who were known around the world for their portrayals of the black experience in America. Simmons’ peers include Chester Himes and Richard Wright. The Simmons’ collection is primarily comprised of materials from his novel Corner Boy, about the drug problems in black communities, which was also made into a script and formed the basis of the show, The Wire. I’m looking 
forward to processing this collection and reading more about Mr. Simmons.

On Saturday, the monthly “Black Talkies on Parade” series featured a documentary about Leimert Park Village, a community of artists in Los Angeles. Lloyd Clayton had orchestrated an event that included historic photographs on display in the hallway, and a panel discussion including the film’s director and the author of a local history book about Leimert Park. We had over 150 people in our great room for this event. Our volunteers also turned out in high numbers; greeting guests at the door, checking them in, and answering any questions about the museum. My biggest contribution was probably cutting the fruit, cheese, and vegetables for the light refreshments table.  

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