Felicia A. Smith is the Head of Learning and Outreach at Stanford Libraries. She is a published author and as an African American librarian has written articles promoting racial literacy and introducing seldom explored minority stories. In the words of Ralph Ellison, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
Felicia was inspired to create the “Say Their Names – No More Names” exhibit in response to a series of lynchings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The goal is to serve as a “Forget Me Not” memorial that honors their lives while also remembering their deaths or assaults. This exhibit is one example of concrete actions Stanford Libraries has taken to prove that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
She asked Stanford Libraries’ University Librarian, Michael A. Keller, to close the libraries in observance of Juneteenth. He agreed and asked Felicia to share with library staff her thoughts about Juneteenth in the wake of the recent increased global support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a result, Felicia composed a video essay titled, “Juneteenth – Feel Me – Updated.” The “updated” word in the title was a result of having to repeatedly update the video essay because new victim names were revealed after the first couple of tapings. The sadness that resulted from constantly needing to update the video essay, led to the addition of the second part of the exhibit title; a desperate primal shriek pleading for there to be “No More Names!” To try to quell that angst she joined fellow Stanford University Black employees and took to the streets near Stanford’s campus to protest, in spite of the Covid-19 panic that has proven to be especially dangerous for Black people.
Similar to Alicia Garza, one of the Co-Founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Felicia Smith is also a “Freedom Dreamer.” Similar to Langston Hughes, Felicia “Dreams a World” where there will be “No More Names.” Langston wrote about his dream world that regrettably still remains a fantasy:
“A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free.”
Felicia's “Freedom Dream, in her Dream World” fantasy is one in which we honor victims by remembering their lives by Saying Their Names; sharing their stories and ensuring they Know Justice. Felicia's ultimate “Freedom Dream, in her ideal Dream World” is one in which there will be “No More Names” because all Black People, everywhere on Earth, finally Know Peace.