Suburban Chicago library set to fire only African American librarian who spoke out about racial equity

Cheryl writes, "The sole African American librarian in Evanston Public Library (population ~75K– first 'burb north adjacent to Chicago) faced a termination hearing today related to social media posts she made in protest to the library's lack of action related to addressing racial equity in library services."

"She will hear her fate this coming Wednesday. Local activists used FOIA requests to unearth emails between the library board and the director referring to Williams as a 'thorn in the side' of the library for her outspoken views on race — before the social media posting happened. The issue has been covered locally by The Chicago Reader, The Daily Northwestern (campus newspaper) and Chicago Tribune, but no national attention has been paid."

Supporters of Lesley Williams gathered as she faced possible termination over a critical Facebook she wrote questioning the library's commitment to racial equity. This is the second time in two months large numbers of Evanston and area residents demonstrate to defend Lesley against a pattern of persecution over her steadfastness in challenging library leadership on racially equitable distribution of resources including library branch locations; building a collection that fully represents all Evanston communities; and staff management.

The day before the rally, emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request confirmed suspicions that Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons; Library Board President Michael Tannen; and other board members including Vice President Margaret Lurie had long been waiting for a pretext to push Lesley out.

In one email dated March 10, before the last disciplinary hearing Lesley faced, Lurie wrote to Danczak-Lyons that "LW is clearly the thorn in our sides, but at this point, unless she really oversteps her role, we are stuck, Agreed?" Danczak-Lyons replied, "Agreed."

Emails Confirm Contempt for Community Concerns As Nearly 100 Rally Again For Evanston's Only Black Librarian
[Jes Scheinpflug]