The New Orleans Public Library is preparing for its annual Black History Month series that will showcase African-American heritage and cultural programs. The series launches in January.

“I am very excited and pleased to have the programming take place at the library,” New Orleans Librar Associate Director of Central Public Services Valencia Hawkins said. “The series is a system- wide effort in which staff members come together to design numerous programs that will educate and entertain people of all ages on topics within the African-American community.”

The series begins on January 12th with a Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday celebration at the Main Library Branch.

According to Black History Month Committee Chair Maya Lopez, this year’s theme will center on African- American women. Linda Hill, who is the curator and archivist for the African and African American Studies for Southern University at New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker for the series. She will be speaking on the topic, How we did it.

In addition, Hawkins said that throughout the series the library will showcase films, workshops, and presentations on many topics such as African-American women, black education, black-white labor relations, and its most popular, genealogy.

“Every year the genealogy workshop is always well-attended,” Hawkins told “It pays tribute to history by offering a genealogy workshop in which people can learn and research their family’s history.”

To Hawkins the series is especially important, because the library strives to educate its audiences on issues that are greatly impacting the African-American community.

“This series pays contribute to African American history, which is so important to New Orleans, and it addresses current issues important to African Americans today,” Hawkins said.

In fact, Hawkins told theGrio that for 2012 the library would feature workshops that address AIDs and also provide free AIDS testing.

The Black History Month series will end with an acting competition involving teenagers in March.