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Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum

Lynette Padwa By Lynette Padwa Published on February 10, 2017

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This article was updated on April 19, 2017

Folks living in Los Angeles: the MAYME A. CLAYTON LIBRARY AND MUSEUM features African American books, music, films, posters, documents, and artifacts. The museum was the brainchild of Mayme A. Clayton, Ph.D. (1923-2006), a librarian who took it upon herself to amass the extraordinary collection. Her son, Lloyd. L. Clayton, gives free tours that trace the history of African American life in L.A. from the turn of the 20th century until the present day. When I toured recently, I saw a map of buildings burned and looted in the Watts Riots as well as other artifacts from the 18th century onward. Especially thrilling: a signed copy of the first book of poetry published in the U.S. by an African American woman, Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (1773). And I found out that a Los Angeles DJ in the 1960s would shout “Burn, baby, burn!” if a song was really tearing up the airwaves. Then the Watts Riots happened, and the rest is history. Explore the library and its archives here, or if you live in L.A. visit the library and peruse the collection yourself.

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