In honor of Black History Month in February, the Portland Library held an all-ages event with screenings, games and activities celebrating black superheroes. We screened episodes of “Static Shock ,” a TV show from the early '00s that featured a black superhero, and had an array of games, coloring pages and a book display.
We have held the event for the past four years, and it has grown in popularity each time.
Since elementary school, I’ve loved comic books. My friends and I collected Marvel and DC books, traded them, and excitedly waited for all the new releases at our local comic book store.
Even today, there are few black superheroes in these stories, so I decided to create a Black History Month program to introduce black superheroes to people who otherwise may not have known about them.
To put together this event, I came up with a few activities that highlighted different black superheroes such as Black Panther , Storm, Cyborg and Iron  Heart . I selected comics for a book display which included series titles such as X-Men, Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go!, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Fearless Defenders, Green Lantern Corps, Black Lightning and Infamous Iron Man.
We added the program to our online calendar, and our community relations department helped us make fliers, which we hung in the library and passed out to patrons. I also called a few patrons that I knew would be interested. This year, a reporter from our local NPR station attended and wrote an article  about the event.
This program cost the library around $30 for supplies (snacks, coloring pages, etc.). Our library system already had the licensing it required to screen the TV show, so that was free for us.
This program was scheduled for a Saturday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in our library building. Before the event began, library staff (myself and a few coworkers) set up the various activity stations.
One activity was a ball toss game. We set up buckets with photos of villains on them, and people had to toss balls into the villain’s buckets to vanquish them.
We also had a puzzle game I named “Bonk.” I made an eight-piece puzzle by cutting out photos of superheroes and gluing them to foam boards. I cut the foam into pieces to make a puzzle with different black superheroes’ faces on them. Players would draw the puzzle pieces from a box, one by one, until they completed the puzzle. But each box also had a few “bonk” pieces in it. The object was to put together the puzzle without drawing the “bonks” — three strikes and you’re out.
Other activities included a table with superhero coloring pages and a place to make your own hero mask. We had a table displaying comic books and images of black superheroes with their bios so people could learn more about them. We also had snacks.
I started the program at 1:30 by welcoming the patrons and showing the first episode of “Static Shock.” After the first episode, I invited them to stay and watch more of the show, or roam around and check out the activities.
2019 was the fourth annual Black Superhero Showcase for our library, and we had our largest turnout yet — 30 attendees, ranging in age from 5 to adult. For me, the best part of this program was seeing how people of all ages got into it. The youngest kids had fun with the games and activities, while the older kids and adults appreciated learning about the different characters. There was something for everyone.
I would advise you to do programs you are passionate about. Because I’m interested in this topic, I found myself doing a lot of research to find images and information on the superheroes. A website I found helpful was World of Black Heroes . Asking kids which superheroes they liked was helpful, too.
About This Library
Louisville Free Public Library’s Portland branch is located in the Portland neighborhood, northwest of downtown Louisville. Since its founding in 1905, the branch has continually evolved to better serve the needs of the community around it. In addition to checking out books and magazines, patrons can also use one of the branch’s computers. The Portland Branch is also interested in inspiring the next generation of readers and community leaders. Our auditorium is used for children's storytimes, computer classes, guest speakers and special events.