Black History Month event by Brookings Public Library 'zoombombed' with racial slurs, lewd images

The event, part of a Black History Month series sponsored by the library, featured Negro Leagues Baseball historian Phil Dixon speaking on Black history and culture.


BROOKINGS, S.D. — A Zoom event featuring Black History Month by the Brookings Public Library was interrupted Wednesday night by "zoombombers" who drew racial slurs and exposed themselves, officials in Brookings say.

The event, part of a Black History Month series sponsored by the library, featured Negro Leagues Baseball historian Phil Dixon speaking on Black history and culture.

According to a press release from the Brookings Public Library, 10 minutes into event, the offending attendees began drawing lewd images and racial slurs on the screen, shouting and indecently exposing themselves.

The offending attendees were removed and the presentation continued, though library officials notified authorities of the incident.

Dixon’s presentation was the fourth event in a larger series of the library’s Black History Month events. Until this point, there have been no other interference with the Library’s Black History Month programming, officials say.


“We are disheartened that this hateful sort of disturbance took place at Phil Dixon’s talk. It went directly against the Library’s goals for our Black History Month series, as well as the values that the Library upholds,” said Mikaela Neubauer, community service coordinator for the library. “We can only condemn the actions taken by those responsible, thank our presenter for his professionalism, and look ahead to more positive and productive programming for our community.”

Though the presentation continued after the interruption, Dixon addressed the crowd before launching back into his discussion of Negro League Baseball teams and players from eastern South Dakota and the greater Midwest.

“Racism is real and these types of programs help to unify us. That’s what we’re trying to do: unify,” Dixon said. “There’s always going to be someone out there with an ulterior motive. But, if we come together to share the great history of America, the real, true history of how people worked together and people made things work in even the most difficult times, then I think we’ll be okay.”

Situations such as this one will not hinder the community’s objectives, the library said in a press release.

"This incident further affirms that such programming addresses a need that is both vital and pressing," said Dianne Nagy, vice chair of the Brookings Human Rights Commission (HRC).

Nieema Thasing, chair of the HRC echoed Nagy, reaffirming the commission's commitment.

“We take incidents like this just as seriously as letting out dogs on marches, hoses, or being drug behind a truck,” Thasing said. “The HRC will remain ever vigilant with our mission.”

The library’s last two Black History Month events will continue as planned.
On Feb. 24, the library will hold a Black History Month Celebration with free soul food, activities and presentations, to be followed on March 4 with a “More Than a Month” community conversation to discuss the topics addressed throughout the month’s programming and how the community of Brookings can promote diversity and inclusion year-round.


“Phil Dixon’s event, and all of our other Black History Month events are meant to be a safe place to learn, grow and talk openly about topics of Black history and culture, as well as community building. This time that safety was threatened, yet we didn’t let it stop us from going on with the presentation,” said Neubauer. “Culturally diverse and informative programming is vital for this community and the Library will continue offering events like these, no matter what backlash or obstacles we may face.”

The library has uploaded a recording of Dixon's presentation — with the "zoombomb" removed — on their Facebook page.

More information about upcoming Library events can be found on the Brookings Public Library website calendar.

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