On October 23, 1999, Sam Morrison, then director of the Broward County (Florida) Library System, watched the ground break for the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center. The center was the realization of his wish to build a facility for the exchange of information and ideas relating to African culture and the black experience that would attract visitors, researchers, historians, and filmmakers from around the globe. Opening to the public on October 26, 2002, the center became the third of its kind in the United States, joining the Schomburg
Schomburg Center for Research in New York and the Auburn Research Library in Atlanta. This 60,000-square-foot research center was built by the largest African-American architectural and engineering firm in the United States. Decorated by an award-winning African-American design team, the library boasts 5,000 square feet of gallery space and houses over 75,000 books, manuscripts, historical documents, and artifacts.
Morrison's vision turned the county's proposal to build a small traditional library in Broward County into a plan to build a facility that honors black culture. Seeking to promote black history and an appreciation for black achievement, the center houses a collection that is a treasure trove of both well known and little known gems. For African Americans, especially, the center provides the resources for a substantial exploration of the black experience in America, an experience filled with pain, hope, and achievement. The center's many collections--including FBI files from the civil rights era and slave narratives--provide ample evidence of a past both troubling and profoundly encouraging.