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Tara Lewis-Tidwell remembers meeting Lottie Robinson in 1986, soon after she began working for the Hardin County Public Library.
The woman looked at Lewis-Tidwell curiously and asked how long she had been working at the library and how many black children frequented the building.
Lewis-Tidwell answered she mostly worked in the basement and wasn’t sure.
It wasn’t long after that when she noticed many more black children filtering into the library, and she thinks Robinson’s advocacy in the community led to that.
“I just kind of opened my eyes to that and realized that Lottie Robinson, the conversation we had that day, she went back and shared that with her friends, church members, about coming to the public library,” she said.
Lewis-Tidwell, branch manager for the North Branch library, now is honoring the memory of the local teacher and historian, who died at age 100 in October 2011.
Lewis-Tidwell attended a memorial for Robinson and listened to examples of times when Robinson tried to help area residents, similar to the conversation she had with the woman in 1986. She especially was interested in helping members of the black community.
“That inspired me to do a display because I’d never heard anyone in the community really talk about Lottie Robinson,” she said. “You would hear about other local educators, but I never heard about Lot-tie Robinson.”
Lewis-Tidwell decided to do what she could to preserve the woman’s memory and increase community awareness of her contributions.
She got permission to honor Robinson by setting up a display with information and photos of her in the genealogy room of the branch on Jim Owen Drive in Elizabethtown.
It seemed especially appropriate to honor Robinson during Black History Month, so Lewis-Tidwell set up the beginnings of the display Thursday and Friday.
“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I feel like she needs recognition. She didn’t get enough recognition that she deserved.”
Some local black educators have been forgotten, and it’s important to preserve their memories, Lewis-Tidwell said.
In addition to remembering Robinson, Lewis-Tidwell hopes the display will inspire young people to focus on what’s important and be successful in their lives.
“This generation, to me, has not found their way, and I feel that some of them are going in the wrong direction,” she said.
She hopes looking up to Robinson and other strong black leaders, inventors and other figures will encourage them to work hard in school and do great things with their lives.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com. Her Stories from the Heartland column appears on Mondays in The News-Enterprise.