For immediate release | January 6, 2020

Imani Perry to keynote 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration

CHICAGO – Professor and author Imani Perry will deliver the keynote address at the 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Philadelphia. The 2020 Celebration will be held from 6:30-7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 27 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Terrace II Ballroom.

Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of six books, including most recently "Breathe: A Letter to My Sons," which journalist Krista Tippett described as “a vision of human resilience and wholeness that could reframe and redeem this young century’s painful reckonings." Perry comes from a long line of Southern civil rights activists, and much of her work focuses on multifaceted issues regarding race and African American culture such as the influence of race on law, activism, literature and music. Her acclaimed biography "Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry" won the 2019 PEN American Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. The book also received the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, the Shilts-Grahn Triangle Award for Lesbian Nonfiction and the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award. In her 2011 book "More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States," Perry discusses the ongoing intersection of race and politics in America, and in "We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem" gives a cultural history of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Joining Dr. Perry is Call-to-Action speaker Loida Garcia-Febo. Garcia-Febo is the Immediate Past President of the American Library Association and has been a librarian for almost 20 years, with experience in academic, public, school and special libraries. She is a library consultant and President of Information New Wave, a not for profit NGO seeking to enhance the education of ethnically diverse communities working with libraries and information workers. She is an author, educator and mentor to librarians and information workers, and frequently presents at library association events and at institutions. She often speaks to the media including ABC, CNN, NPR, Univision, Telemundo and New York Times. She has taught in 20 countries in five continents and has advocated on behalf of libraries at the United Nations.

Musical performance of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” will be provided by Philadelphia-area musician Beatrice Sessoms.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration commemorates Dr. King's legacy and recognizes the connection between his life's work and the library world. Featured readings include selected passages from the works of Dr. King. For more information on past Celebrations, please visit

Attendance is open to all attendees of the 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting. For more information, please visit

The 2020 Celebration is sponsored by ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, OCLC, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table, and the Black Caucus of the ALA, Inc. Dr. Perry’s participation is generously provided by Beacon Press.


Briana Jarnagin

Program Coordinator, Community Engagement

Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services