Books That Inspire 2008

The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library
Louise S. Robbins

I first ran across The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown in the Oklahoma Heritage section of the McAlester Public Library in 2003. I was immediately taken by the book’s subtitle, and by the fact that it takes place in the small city of Bartlesville, where I grew up. I had never heard of Ruth Brown or the events surrounding her firing, had never heard a whisper of how this courageous librarian stood up for racial equality in the pre-Civil Rights era--and was vilified and fired for it. America’s librarians had recently become my new heroes because of their principled stance against the civil liberties abuses of the USA Patriot Act, so I was intrigued with the subject, and at once checked out the book. The tale is more than informative: it’s inspiring in all the richest, most compelling senses of the word. Miss Ruth Brown was an authentic Oklahoma hero, and the story of her courage, her unwavering sense of justice, and her willingness to face down wealthy and oppressive powers-that-be during the McCarthy era is a story every Oklahoman should know.

Rilla J. Askew
Honors College