For the second time, the West Hartford Public Library will honor the late Gertrude Blanks and her love of storytelling. But people will have the chance to learn about his life and legacy in a new way.
Growing up, Blanks broke down barriers in a heavily segregated society, becoming Hall High School’s first black graduate, a librarian at the Hartford Public Library, and a beloved storyteller.
“She loved telling stories. She loved children. And she was always inspiring…And she lovingly recounted her experience of how she had to deal with different controversies,” storyteller Jedda LaRue Williams said.
Williams knew Blanks personally. A storyteller herself, Williams runs a program called “Living Legends Among Us” that aims to teach children about people who have made a difference in the community.
“I honor the elders who are still here with us so the kids get to know their village,” Williams said.
Williams is set to take the stage inside First Church Auditorium to honor Blanks’ life. She will be joined by Rosemarie Tate and Okey Ndibe who will share their life experiences as activists, writers and performers.
“So we saw this event as an opportunity to celebrate her and also to educate people who may not have known who she was or what she did,” said Laura Irmscher, director of the West Public Library. Hartford.
Blanks’ portrait can be seen on mural MLK39 just outside the library among two other notable West Hartford women.
As depicted in the mural, Tammy Rush Exum at the top was Connecticut’s first black woman elected to state office. Judy Caperson, middle left, was the first black woman to serve on West Hartford City Council.
Williams said Thursday’s storytelling event is an opportunity to respect and support those who came before them.
“I want them to remember Gertrude and how she achieved milestones in the city,” Williams said.
The event begins next Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. inside the First Church Auditorium next to the West Hartford Public Library. Admission is free for the public.