Black History Month is an important time to focus on the experience of Black America and the Black Diaspora (people who no longer live in their homeland), to honor the struggles, the times of triumph, and to celebrate the stellar contributions and achievements of our people. Each year, I also take time to spotlight the father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In 1926, Dr. Woodson pioneered the creation of "Negro History Week,” designating it to coincide with the February birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
"It is not so much a Negro History Week as it is a History Week. We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in History,” Dr. Woodson explained. “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world, void of national bias, race hatred and religious prejudice.”
The early idea of a Negro History Week was popular, and the Black United Students and Black educators at Kent State University in Ohio advocated to make it an entire month celebrating Black contributions, beginning on February 1, 1970. Since 1976, every U.S. president has continued this proud tradition.
I hope you will take time to learn more about Dr. Woodson on our website. Our library catalog also contains thousands of other stories that illuminate the Black experience, which I invite you to take advantage of by using your FREE library card (tell a friend)!
Black History Month also brings to my mind the recent calls to censor works of classic American literature that reference race and gender identification, under the guise of “protecting” children. As a parent, and a librarian, I take very seriously the dangers of censorship to a free and open society. This recent trend represents a small but vocal minority attempting to control the stories of people’s lived experiences, particularly those of marginalized groups. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that we are all free to choose what we read and share within our own homes. I concur with the American Library Association (ALA) in their position that a library’s role within a community is to make available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas. I believe that in order to build a more inclusive, empathic democracy, we must resolutely defend free speech and intellectual freedom. To learn more about censorship, here are some fascinating library resources to explore.
Black History Month Recommendations:
Our library catalog contains thousands of stories that illuminate the Black experience. Below is a brief overview of what your library card provides … books to read, movies to watch, music, and audiobooks to listen to, and all of it to learn from.
In the section Strong Women’s Words, you will find in-demand titles, plus an array of books on business, politics, history, self-empowerment, and more.
Under the Local and National Resources section, you can view programming from KNPR and Vegas PBS about the Black experience in Las Vegas. If you are a film buff, check out The Black Film Archive, which showcases currently streaming Black films made from 1915 to 1979. In this resources section, you will also find links to national organizations such as Color of Change, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the NAACP.
Confronting Racism is another insightful section you won’t want to miss, featuring recently published works and book lists that explore Social Justice and Racial Politics.
We also serve up a Science Fiction category for you to curl up with on a chilly winter night with tales of fantasy and futuristic stories by such celebrated Black authors as Octavia E. Butler, Walter Mosley, Jewelle Gomez, and Samuel R. Delany.
You’ll definitely want to dive into our Cinema section, where you can choose from hundreds of movies to check out on DVD from your nearest library branch, or stream or download from our website. Enjoy classic feature films, documentaries, comedies, mysteries, and so much more featuring extraordinary Black talent.
And if you’re still dreaming about your grandma’s cooking, our Soul Food section serves up not only delicious cookbooks, but stories about the historical impact and cultural influences of Black food.
Black History Month Events:
If you are ready to attend Live Performances, Events and Programming, the library is your free ticket to in-person experiences during Black History Month. Performances include ballet by African American choreographers, a musical tribute to Maya Angelou and Diana Ross, and a stage production of The Color Purple. Visit our event calendar for a full listing of art exhibitions, kids and teen activities, and more.
So please come celebrate Black History Month with us! Take part in an event or activity or check out any of our thousands of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs at a branch near you.
Or take advantage of our 24/7 availability on our website at LVCCLD.org. I look forward to seeing you soon at the library!