Stamped from the Beginning


Beginning in September 2021, Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL) hosted a community read program series featuring "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" by Ibram X. Kendi for adult readers; "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Jason Reynolds and Kendi for teens; and "Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Reynolds and Kendi.  

During the months following, VBPL provided a series of programs that examined the history and current reality of racism and injustice in Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach, including book discussions, local history and genealogy workshops and discussions about systemic racism and its local impacts. The program’s finale on Feb. 18 included an author talk, Q&A session and book signing by award-winning author Jason Reynolds at the Central Library.

The program was made possible, in part, by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Virginia Humanities, the Virginia Beach Library Foundation, and the Friends of Virginia Beach Public Library.


FAQs: Stamped from the Beginning Community Read Project

What is the program?
"Stamped from the Beginning," is a community read program for all ages. The book at the heart of the program is Ibram X. Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" and adaptations, "Racism, Antiracism, and You" for teens by Jason Reynolds and Kendi, and "Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism and You", by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Reynolds and Kendi. 

Using the texts of these well-known books to encourage discussion, as well as the expertise of local experts and our own residents, VBPL will bring the community together to discuss these issues in a way that is locally relevant.

When is the program happening?
The "Stamped from the Beginning" project will include a variety of events, exhibits, and programs in locations across Virginia Beach, beginning in September 2021 and ending in February 2022.  Book discussions will begin in October, with the Living Room Conversations, intergenerational conversations, African American genealogy and local history workshops taking place later in the fall and winter. The finale in February 2022 will feature author Jason Reynolds.

Why is VBPL hosting this program?
As safe spaces where all are welcome, libraries are ideal for hosting community dialogue. The books and ideas of prominent educators and authors can be helpful in encouraging new ways of thinking. VBPL has previously provided discussions on race in programs such as "Living Room Conversations," and through traditional book clubs. This program expands to include the local experience in Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads area, inviting residents to look closely at how race and ethnicity impact personal lives, and engage in educational and productive conversations as a community.  

How were the books chosen for this program?
The books are accepted as some of the most reputable sources for learning about the history of racism in America and the concepts of antiracist thought. Dr. Kendi is the Director of Antiracist Research at Boston University and is a historian of race in America. He received the National Book Award for "Stamped from the Beginning."

Is this project related to Critical Race Theory (CRT)?
Though the origins of Critical Race Theory (CRT) are mentioned in the book, “Stamped from the Beginning,” it is not the focus of these books or VBPL’s “Stamped from the Beginning” community read program series. VBPL’s project is focused on opening community dialog around race and racism in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads by encouraging participants to analyze historical events, personal experiences, and social structures impacting race and racism in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads. 

CRT is an antiracist intellectual framework which began in the 1970s, after the Civil Rights Movement. Scholars from multiple disciplines now use this framework to investigate how systemic legal and political factors have reinforced racism in America.  For more detailed information about CRT, view the “Antiracism” article available in the Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, available with a free VBPL library account.

How was the program funded?
On behalf of Virginia Beach Public Library, the Virginia Beach Library Foundation (VBLF) received a grant of $10,000 from Virginia Humanities and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation (HRCF) as part of the "Beneath the Surface" initiative designed to deepen awareness of the role race and racism play in issues confronting South Hampton Roads, and to lay the groundwork for positive transformation. The Virginia Beach Library Foundation was one of 12 organizations across the region that received funding from the grant opportunity.

Additionally, VBLF matched the $10,000 grant with required matching funds of $10,000 plus an additional $8,500.


​"Stamped from the Beginning" Reading Guide Resources

VBPL librarians used the following resources to create the reading guide, with relevant local events, for "Stamped from the Beginning."

Adult Reading Guide - Stamped from the Beginning - 2021


Part 1: 1415-1728

Part 2: 1743-1826

Part 3: 1826-1879

Part 4: 1868-1963

Part 5: 1963-Present

Contact Information