February is Black History Month, a month-long celebration of the role of African Americans in the history of the United States. Also known as African-American History Month, the month grew from Negro History Week, which began in 1926 when Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson created it to ensure that students would be exposed to black history. Woodson chose the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdates of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
In following years, mayors of cities around the country issued proclamations recognizing Negro History Week and in February of 1969, Black History Month was proposed by educators and the group Black United Students at Kent State University. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State in 1970 and in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially proclaimed February to be Black History Month, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
This February (and all year!), take some time to read, listen to, and learn about the contributions and experiences of African-Americans in our culture. The library’s catalog is a great place to get you started; here’s a small sample of what you can borrow.