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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Mozart C. Perry plays for program "Jazz Greats of Toledo," honoring Art Tatum, October 1995
Mozart C. Perry, solo pianist for program "Jazz Greats of Toledo" honoring Art Tatum, at Kent Branch Library, October 13, 1995 Photo courtesy Art Tatum African American Resource Center

Art Tatum African American Resource Center

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library established the Art Tatum African American Resource Center in 1989. The Tatum Center, which shares space with the Kent Branch Library in Toledo's historic Old West End, evolved after extensive local and regional research revealed a need for an African American cultural center for Lucas County residents. Toledo's contribution to the field of African American accomplishments is far greater than its 380,000 population would indicate. Among Toledo's talented African Americans are: jazz pianist Art Tatum; artist and sculptor LeMaxie Glover; attorney J.B. Simmons, who was the first African American to serve on the Toledo city council; and Ella P. Stewart, the first African American female to graduate from the University of Philadelphia as a pharmacist, who opened the first pharmacy owned and operated by an African American in Toledo.

The Art Tatum Center's mission is to provide cultural, educational and historical information on unique African American cultural heritage and experiences. The resource center's name was chosen following an essay contest. Tatum, an internationally known jazz pianist famous for his unique piano technique and inventive improvisations, had never been recognized by his hometown, Toledo. By naming the center for Art Tatum, the center recognizes his accomplishments, personal perseverance and creative talent. These are the same qualities that the center hopes to inspire and encourage in contemporary citizens.

The Art Tatum African American Resource Center's collection contains 84,000 books, ranging in subject from Black biblical heritage to slavery to the Harlem Renaissance. The collection also includes magazines, journals, microfiche, audio and videotapes, and CDs. The center also provides on-site cultural programs, sponsors the city-wide Kwanza festival, and holds an annual jazz concert. It also has a Tatum Gallery of the Arts for local artists.

Project documentation includes a seven-page report, PC disc, newspaper clippings, program flyers and pictures.

Originally submitted by: Marcy Kaptur, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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