Dorothy Porter’s Confidence and Self Assurance

Dorothy Porter obliged herself to search and recover as many possible texts written about Slavery and African-American History as possible. Her goal was for students, and other members of the Howard University community to be able to access information that was not available. Considering the lack of existing civil rights during the times when her works were conducted, it is quite astonishing to read about an African-American female librarian, that was closely engaged with a topic that used to be very sensitive to discuss openly. In “On Decimals, Catalogs, and Racial Imaginaries of Reading”, Laura E. Helton describes the ambitious, work ethics of a woman who did not fear any form of outside threats. She managed to ignore the immense pressure that was on her shoulders and eventually became successful at the end. Her skillful approach enabled her to create a site in which she classified texts about Black history. The essay analyzes the creation of the catalog, along with Porter’s use of decimal sequences, and cataloging protocols. She often became the victim of provocation by her surroundings. Gikandi commented about her and made the statement; Could one be a revolutionary and still love the library?”. Porter responded by saying that “to love the library, as a black woman taxonomist in the 1930’s was already to be a revolutionary.”. I think that Porter’s quote is quite remarkable. It was a major step to take in terms of equality. There are very few examples of black women, let alone civil rights activists in history that have the unbelievable courage of Dorothy Porter.

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