For immediate release | November 1, 2016

Daina Ramey Berry to keynote 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration at ALA Midwinter

CHICAGO – Noted historian Dr. Daina Ramey Berry will deliver the keynote address during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration during the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Atlanta. The 2017 Celebration will be held from 6:30-7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 23 in the Georgia World Congress Center.

Berry is associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies and the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Fellow in History at the University of Texas at Austin. Berry is a specialist in the history of gender and slavery in the United States with a particular emphasis on the social and economic history of the nineteenth century. Her forthcoming book, “The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from the Womb to the Grave, in the Building of a Nation,” offers a groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America. (Beacon Press, January 2017)

In addition to her scholarly writing and editing, she has appeared on several syndicated radio and television shows, including NPR, NBC, PBS, C-SPAN and the History Channel. Berry's research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Association of University Women, the Ford Foundation and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Her participation as keynote is generously made possible by Beacon Press.

Joining Berry is Call-to-Action Speaker Patricia M.Y. (Patty) Wong, county librarian of the Yolo County (California) Library System. Wong’s decades-long career, from her early days as a children’s librarian in Oakland to her present position as county librarian and chief archivist for Yolo County, has borne witness to her tireless commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and community-centered engagement. Wong is known for her work for the California State Library on initiatives for service to diverse communities, including the writing of several seminal publications. She was Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) President and has been an active member and advocate of the five ethnic caucus associations since 1990, in addition to her service on several ALA committees and elected positions on ALA Council and the ALA Executive Board. She has received several awards in recognition of her contributions to the profession, including the ALA Equality Award and the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) Advocacy Award.

Under the theme “Freedom Ain’t Never Been Free,” the 2017 Sunrise Celebration will bring together leaders from across the association, including 2016-17 ALA President Dr. Julie Todaro and ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. Featured readings will include selected passages from the works of Dr. King. Cynthia P. Lewis, Director of Archives at King Library and Archives in Atlanta, will deliver the welcome.

Coffee and tea will be served. Attendance is open to all attendees of the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting. For more information, please visit

The ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) is a unit within the American Library Association. It works to make ALA more democratic and to establish progressive priorities not only for the association, but also for the entire profession. Concern for human and economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and remains an urgent concern today. SRRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy. SRRT’s main website is hosted

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association, serves as an advocate for the development, promotion and improvement of library services and resources to the nation's African-American community and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African-American librarians. To learn more about BCALA, please visit

Beacon Press is a 162 year old independent nonprofit publisher of books on social change, history, religion, the environment, science and society. Its mission is to promote freedom of speech and thought; religious pluralism, democracy, anti-racism and respect for diversity in all areas of life. Beacon is partnering with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in publishing "The King Legacy," a series of new editions of previously published King titles as well as new collections of Dr. King's writings, sermons, lectures, speeches and prayers, each with new introductions by leading scholars. To learn more about Beacon Press and The King Legacy, please visit or


John L. Amundsen

Program Officer, Outreach and Communications

ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach Services

(312) 280-2140