The Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library

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Mr. Odell Winfield, Library Cofounder and Director

Odell Winfield Cofounder of The Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library
Odell Winfield, cofounder of the Library was born and raised in Hempstead, Long Island. It was there that Odell played sports and was involved in community groups as a youth. Although there were good experiences for young Odell, it was in Hempstead that he got into trouble and landed in Comstock State Prison. During his time in prison, Odell was fortunate to meet and befriend a Native American Story Teller, who worked as the English teacher in prison. His name is Joe Bruchac. This man and his style of communicating history made an impression on Odell. Later, Odell joined The Peoples Party while in prison. It was a multiracial group of men who had been involved in organizations like The Black Panther Party and The Weather Underground. The Peoples Party worked collectively in the prison system, to help inmates.
During Odell's incarceration, he was voted to become Education Minister for The Peoples Party. Odell's great Organizing skills strengthened during this time. Upon release from prison, Odell enrolled in Skidmore College and later graduated from Siena College. He took with him 2 proposals, ICAP the inmate college advisory program and Phase Out/Reentry Transitional Housing Program. Both of these programs served inmates who were transitioning from prison campus to college campus. After his college career Odell then began work with Regents College out of Albany, New York. He became the Coordinator of Community Outreach for the Nontraditional Education Program, helping Adult educationally disadvantaged workers obtain their A.A or B.A degrees.  
Odell also worked as the Director of the Malcolm X Study Network which cosponsored Conferences on Critical Black Issues. These tremendously important conferences titled "Freedom has never been Free", "The Survival of the African American Family", "Education: Its Role in the Liberation of the African American Community" and "African Amercian Progress:...Myth or Reality?" were developed to help participants develop an understanding of the major national and local issues impacting on African Americans. They also served to encourage participants to become involved in the educational, economic and political arenas of society, especially to identify strategies that will assist African Americans in becoming full partners in society.
These conferences also helped to energize participants to develop community based programs and develop an awareness of the strategies needed to expedite full participation on the part of all African Americans in a highly technological, capitalistic society. 
He developed The Third World Story Hour which was produced and aired by the Local Cable Television company. This series included 12, fortyfive minute storytelling programs based on Third World Cultures. The entire technical aspect of the production was handled by disadvantaged minority students from selected institutions in the Albany New York area. 
Odell's first bookstore was quite sucessful and became the MidHudson Valley MultiCultural Educational Resources Bookstore. It was sometime later that Odell was contacted by his good friend, Lateef Islam who was Director of The Family Partnership Center. Although Lateef knew Odell from Comstock, he was anxious to talk with him after seeing Odells work on The African Film Festival in Poughkeepsie.
Lateef contacted Odell and asked him if he would consider developing some of the unused space in the Family Partnership building and Odell agreed. The result is the Library.
Recently we asked Odell why Poughkeepsie needs the African Roots Library and Center and his answer was profound. In addition to reasoning that the people of color need to see their identity and the contribution they have made to the world, it is also important that Africans see themselves in the books they read. Part of the problem is that ones will read the books, but cannot see that image of themselves in the books they read. Odell wants to change that.

Brian and Lord Just

More Photos, Information to Come!

Brian Riddell

Born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. Attended St. Vincent Ferrer and Nazareth High, where he participated in the first Catholic High School Student Strike to protest the Murder of American College Students at Jackson and Kent State Universities! 

Brian went on to receive a B.A. degree in Social Science, with a concentration in food and nutrition from Brooklyn College. Soon after Graduation, Brian moved to King William County, Virginia and worked in rural community development projects for the Charles City-New Kent Community Action Agency, including Head Start, alternative education programs and community water projects bringing clean drinking water and sanitary facilities into peoples' homes for the first time in 1980!! Together with his wife Michele, he became involved with a Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and Peace and Antimilitary Movement.

When Brian's Father became ill, he moved back to New York State to help care for him. He decided to remain in New York, to be closer to family. Later he purchased an abandoned creamery building in New Paltz, and began rehabilitation of the property. He continued to work as a part time News Reporter, abstract basket maker and energy auditor while finishing the first phase of the re-construction project.

Brian took a job as caseworker at Dutchess Outreach, Inc. in 1989, became Associate Director in 1990, and Executive Director five years later. He has served on the Board of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, one of the remaining poor peoples' lobby in Albany, from that time and up until the present.


Mens Club Chair
Introducing Elder Derick Ronald Jordan. MORE TO COME

Dr. Sadie Peterson Delaney


Born in Rochester, New York in February 1889, Sadie P. Delaney attended Poughkeepsie High School, the College of the City of New York and received her professional training in the New York Public Library.

Mrs. Delaney was a pioneer in the field of bibliotherapy and organized the Veterans Administration Hospital Library in Tuskegee, Alabama. Before assuming the post of Chief Librarian at the Veterans Hospital in 1923, Mrs. Delaney began her career in librarianship at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library in 1920. There she found that immigrants and troubled children could be helped through bibliotherapy (the therapeutic use of reading materials). Her initial work in bibliotherapy received international attention. Mrs. Delaney also had a special interest in books dealing with black history and literature and wanted to develop a collection with such a focus. She thus came to know Arthur A. Schomburg, the bibliophile and collector. Mrs. Delaney was cited for exceptional work at the 135th Street Branch Library and founded the first black professional women's club in New York City. In 1928 she married Rudicel A. Delaney.

Mrs. Delaney's innovative work at the Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee brought world recognition and acclaim. Bibliotherapy and group therapy for the mentally ill and disabled, special Braille therapy for the blind and other related activities at the hospital library were the primary focus of her life's work. She affiliated with others of the library profession, nationally and internationally. She was a member of the American Library Association and its committee for work with the blind; the International Library Association at Queens Garden, England; the International Hospital Library Guild; the League of Nations Library Committee; the Neuropsychiatric Journal Club at the Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee; and the Mental Hygiene Society of Tuskegee Institute. Mrs. Delaney also affiliated with organizations which addressed broader social concerns. She was a member of the National Council of Colored Women, a charter member of the "Women of Darker Races of America," a member of the Tuskegee Women's Club, and the founder of the Friendship League of America. She organized the College Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in New York City and served seven and one-half years on the advisory board of the New York City N.A.A.C.P. Mrs. Delaney was elected as the councilor for the Hospital Library Division of the American Library Association and served from 1946 until 1951.

For her pioneering work as a bibliotherapist, humanitarian and leader in professional and social circles, Mrs. Delaney received numerous awards, honors and citations. In 1934 she was selected by the Mitre Chambers, London, England as one of the important women in America and included in the book Principal Women of America. It was also during this period that she organized a special library department for the blind at the Veterans Hospital. In 1938 she was cited by the Carnegie Corporation, Pretoria, South Africa for exceptional work in hospital libraries. She was selected as Woman of the Year by the Iota Phi Lamba Sorority and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in 1948 and 1949 respectively. In 1950 Mrs. Delaney received the National Urban League Award as Woman of the Year and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities from Atlanta University. In 1952 she was honored at Howard University by the National Council of Negro Women. Dr. Delaney resided in Tuskegee, Alabama until her death in 1958.

Saturday, February 25, 2006
Social activist lives on in work
Community urged to take up Islam's causes     

Walk into the Family Partnership Center in the City of Poughkeepsie and he's there to greet you.

A tall, robust, smiling black man with a cane. Head shaved, earings dangling, almost jaunty — he seems to invite visitors to join in the good work that's going on inside the North Hamilton Street social services center.

It's the late Lateef Islam, appropriately larger than life, memorialized in paint on a pillar of the community center he helped create.

Dozens of community leaders, colleagues and friends came out Friday morning for a symposium on Islam, the social activist who died last year.

Titled "Lateef Islam and His Community," the program was more revival of purpose than academic review of Islam's life and legacy, a call to arms for people to continue his work for social and economic justice.

A theme of the day: The body is gone. His soul remains.

Islam envisioned library

Odell Winfield worked with Islam to establish the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library at the partnership, where Friday's event was held. Winfield recalled Islam dreamed of creating the library, even when things looked bleak.

"No books," Winfield said. "We only had an idea."

The library is up and running, but remains a work in progress.

"We will continue to build this library," said Winfield, the library's director. "We will continue to develop Lateef's dreams."

Catharine Street Community Center Executive Director Shirley Adams said she spoke with Islam a few weeks before his death. He ached to return to his work for those in need.

"He said 'We have things to do!' " Adams recalled. "That was Lateef."

Brian Riddell, head of Dutchess Outreach, which helps people in need of clothes and food, knew Islam for nearly two decades.

Riddell said Islam had an uncanny ability to accomplish tasks that would daunt others.

"Hope, energy and the willingness to go forward on a shoestring," is how Riddell described Islam. "You start out small and build it to something great, and hopefully, meaningful."

Family Partnership President Joseph D'Ambrosio, then new to the post, brought Islam back to the center last year after Islam had left the organization he helped create.

"He started this dream," D'Ambrosio said of the center. "We're all here in some way because of him. We have to make this work."

Emilie Dyson, whose family runs the Millbrook-based Dyson Foundation, spent years working with Islam.

"He was a catalyst," Dyson said. "He was a connector."

Dyson told those gathered Friday that remains true — even months after his death.

"His soul is in this room," Dyson said.

Islam died in the fall at age 58 following health problems that had left him bedridden. He was the Family Partnership's first executive director, coming to Poughkeepsie after serving prison time. Islam turned his life around behind bars, taking college courses through a program for inmates run by Marist College.

He would emerge to become one of the area's most vocal and respected black leaders, working to improve relations between the races during tense times.

Winfield said others must take the baton Islam carried.

For Islam, "it wasn't about color. It wasn't about money. It was about who needed help," Winfield said. "We have to create more Lateefs."

Downstairs on the pillar of his true home, Lateef Islam smiled.

Michael Valkys can be reached at


The Late Lateef Islam

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