Taste of Soul Sunday


New Hope Baptist Church Live African American Museum

1:00 – 4:00 pm

Watch some of the most important and influential figures in African American history come to life as they share their life stories, struggles, and accomplishments.

Please note:
The cast does not interact with viewers. They are like animated statues. They tell their stories, but do not answer questions or engage in conversations. If a personality stares straight ahead and does not speak, you are not being ignored. The cast member is only waiting until more people gather.

Faith and the Democratic Struggle Before #BlackLivesMatter

1:30 pm & 3:00 pm | Level 4
Vanderveen Center for the Book

Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks, local author and historian will be speaking about his new book Faith and Struggle in the Lives for Four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver, and Muhammed Ali.  Dr. Jelks will share how hearing individual stories helps us to understand the black American experience beyond the larger narratives of enslavement, emancipation, and Black Lives Matter. Drawing on his own experiences growing up as a religious African American, he shows that the inner history of black Americans in the 20th century is a story worthy of telling.

Scenes from “The Meeting” by Ebony Road Players

1:30 pm & 3:00 pm | Lower Level
Quiet Study Room

Join us for pivotal scenes from the powerful play “The Meeting,” performed by local theatre troupe the Ebony Road Players. “The Meeting” is a 1987 American play by Jeff Stetson about an imaginary meeting between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in 1965 in a hotel in Harlem during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.


Resistance Reimagined: The Role of African American Literature in Activism

2:15 pm & 3:30 pm | Lower Level
Adult Computer Training Center

We Are LIT bookshop owner, Kendra McNeil and Grand Valley State University Assistant Professor of English, Regis M. Fox will discuss how the role Black literature, particularly the work of Black women writers, plays in activism. Join this conversation about unconventional modes of activism, what resistance looks like, and how African American literature has played a significant role in “protesting antiblack violence, calling for major socio-political change, and challenging false promises of American Democracy.”

Save Our African American Treasures

1:00 – 4:30 pm | Level 4 

GRPL and GRAAMA (Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives) invite you to bring your family photographs, letters, and documents to the library during Taste of Soul Sunday. By collecting your stories and images, we can promote positive images of the African American community, leading to deeper understanding of our history. GRPL and GRAAMA will digitize your items, record an oral history, and offer advice on conserving or appraising art and artifacts. Help us preserve and share your story.