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Historical library reopened in Rayne

The Bunche Library is a historical library that originally opened in May of 1953 to help further educate African Americans during segregation.
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jun 25, 2024

The Bunche library originally opened on May 24, 1953. It's purpose was to encourage and support the education of African Americans in Rayne during segregation.

The Library was named after Ralph J Bunche, a civil rights activist who paved the way for other Black leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. One resident says, while the library isn't very large, the impact was big to the community.

"The size provided, while the library was very small, that is not important." said Ethel Augustus. "It what it symbolizes"

In the 1980s Bunche Library closed down and became vacant. Later on the building was bought and served as a storage shed. With the support of Rayne native , Denise Wiltz - Underwood the shed was restored and will now hold its original purpose to the community of Rayne.

"The Bunche Library holds a special place in my heart as it does for many of the African-Americans," Denise said. "We learned to read, write, dream big, by reading and going through those books and reading things there and seeing a whole New World through those books."

Denise believes restoring the library is not just about history, but also educating the younger generation.

"Who's gonna tell our story if we don't capture it, preserve it, write it down... when my great grandchildren grow up they wouldn't know anything about it," Denise explained. So if we didn't preserve it, 100 years from now no one would know."

Denise feels there was no better day than Juneteenth to hold a grand re-opening. Denise told me she was surprised by the outcome.

"It's so great to see after 71 years the excitement in the crowd that we had, we weren't expecting as many people, but you see how much it means to people," Denise said.

For Denise knowing that she is now apart of history is a surreal feeling, but she expressed she couldn't have done it without help from the community.

"I guess I'm still taking it all in because it's a community effort," Denise said. "I think we're all attached to it on this day."

The Bunche Library will be opened the first Saturday of every month starting at 11 a.m.