It’s February, and you guys know what that means! It’s the month of love. So let's spread some love for Black History Month! Black History Month began with Harvard historian Carter Woodson, his founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), and the start of Negro History Week in 1925. From there, it grew and expanded into what it is today. The first Black History Month was celebrated in 1976, fifty years after the first celebration. It was its founder’s hope that by celebrating black heritage, people would learn and understand about the contributions of African American and other black individuals to civilization and history.
Below, you will find a list of things to do around town to celebrate Black History Month and what it means for our community. You will also find a list of books that look at different avenues of black culture and history, both then and now. History is always happening around us. Yesterday is history today, and today will be history tomorrow. With this in mind, we included some newer books about more recent historical events as well.
Events in the Community to Celebrate:
- One City
- Black History display, open Mondays through Wednesdays from 9am-2pm during the month of February.
- Cape Girardeau Public Library
- Black History Dial-a-Story titles read by our Youth Services staff
- Virtual Let's Talk Graphic Novels book talk featuring black authors
- Book display in Youth Services featuring titles that celebrate Black History Month
Other Things You Can Do to Celebrate and Learn:
- African American Read In 2023
- This literary movement focuses on African American books and authors and encourages the community to read these materials together. In 1990, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers in English founded this effort to make literacy an important part of Black History Month. According to National Today, more than 5.9 million people have participated world wide in this event. So get with your friends and family and let’s make it 6.9 billion! If you are like me and just learning about this movement, that is okay! I hope to incorporate more library programming around this in the future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be reading and incorporating more materials on our own. There is always so much to learn about the people that make up our community!
Books - Both Then and Now:
- Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin
- The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning by Ben Raines
- In Search of Mary Seacole; The Making of a Black Cultural Icon and Humanitarian by Helen Rappaport
- The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country by Amanda Gorman
- Black Nerd Problems by William Henry Evans
- Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton
- In the Black Fantastic by Ekow Eshun
- Ain’t But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story by Willard Jenkins
- Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books, and Questions that Grew Me Up by Remica Bingham-Risher
- Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street by Cin Fabré
- Chuck Berry: An American Life by RJ Smith
- California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival by Keith Corbin
- The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin by Hafizah Augustaus Geter
- Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem by April Ryan
- The Art and History of Black Memorabilia by Larry Buster
- Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, a Movement, a Celebration by Judy Tyrus
- Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri
- Game of Privilege: An African American History of Golf by Lane Dumas
- Extraordinary Black Missourians: Pioneers, Leaders, Performers, Athletes, & Other Notables Who've Made History by John Wright
Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad
The definitive history of World War II from the African American perspective, written by civil rights expert and Dartmouth history professor Matthew Delmont. Over one million Black men and women served in World War II. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge, serving in segregated units and performing unheralded but vital support jobs, only to be denied housing and educational opportunities on their return home. Without their crucial contributions to the war effort, the United States could not have won the war. And yet the stories of these Black veterans have long been ignored, cast aside in favor of the myth of the "Good War" fought by the "Greatest Generation." Half American is American history as you've likely never read it before. In these pages are stories of Black heroes such as Thurgood Marshall, the chief lawyer for the NAACP, who investigated and publicized violence against Black troops and veterans; Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., leader of the Tuskegee Airmen, who was at the forefront of the years-long fight to open the Air Force to Black pilots; Ella Baker, the civil rights leader who advocated on the home front for Black soldiers, veterans, and their families; James Thompson, the 26-year-old whose letter to a newspaper laying bare the hypocrisy of fighting against fascism abroad when racism still reigned at home set in motion the Double Victory campaign; and poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a war correspondent for the Black press. Their bravery and patriotism in the face of unfathomable racism is both inspiring and galvanizing. In a time when the questions World War II raised regarding race and democracy in America remain troublingly relevant and still unanswered, this meticulously researched retelling makes for urgently necessary reading"-- Provided by publisher.
The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song
Chronicles the rich history of an institution at the heart of the African American experience. Beginning with enslavement, traveling through Emancipation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights movement, and ending in the present-day, Gates takes viewers on a journey through time, focusing on the key events, charismatic figures, political debates, and musical traditions that have shaped, and been shaped by, the Black Church.--Container.
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
"A Little Devil in America is an urgent project that unravels all modes and methods of black performance, in this moment when black performers are coming to terms with their value, reception, and immense impact on America. With sharp insight, humor, and heart, Abdurraqib examines how black performance happens in specific moments in time and space--midcentury Paris, the moon, or a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. At the outset of this project, Abdurraqib became fascinated with clips of black minstrel entertainers like William Henry Lane, better known as Master Juba. Knowing there was something more complicated and deep-seated in the history and legacy of minstrelsy, Abdurraqib uncovered questions and tensions that help to reveal how black performance pervades all areas of American society. Abdurraqib's prose is entrancing and fluid as he leads us along the links in his remarkable trains of thought. A Little Devil in America considers, critiques, and praises performance in music, sports, writing, comedy, grief, games, and love"-- Provided by publisher.
Black Designers In American Fashion
"Using previously unexplored sources, Black Designers in American Fashion addresses the erased histories of black fashion designers and their integral role in the American fashion industry"-- Provided by publisher.
"From Elizabeth Keckly's designs as a freewoman for Abraham Lincoln's wife to flamboyant clothing showcased by Patrick Kelly in Paris, Black designers have made major contributions to American fashion. However, many of their achievements have gone unrecognized. This book, inspired by the award-winning exhibition at the Museum at FIT, uncovers hidden histories of Black designers at a time when conversations about representation and racialized experiences in the fashion industry have reached all-time highs. In chapters from leading and up-and-coming authors and curators, Black Designers in American Fashion uses previously unexplored sources to show how Black designers helped build America's global fashion reputation. From enslaved 18th-century dressmakers to 20th-century "star" designers, via independent modistes and Seventh Avenue workers, the book traces the changing experiences of Black designers under conditions such as slavery, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Black Designers in American Fashion shows that within these contexts Black designers maintained multifaceted practices which continue to influence American and global style today. Interweaving fashion design and American cultural history, this book fills critical gaps in the history of fashion and offers insights and context to students of fashion, design, and American and African American history and culture." -- Publisher's Description
African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals
"A brilliant synthesis of African and African-American history that shows how slavery differed in different regions of the country, and how the Africans and their descendants influenced the culture, commerce, and laws of the early United States"-- Provided by publisher
Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western
"African American westerns have a rich cinematic history and visual culture. Mia Mask examines the African American western hero within the larger context of film history by considering how Black westerns evolved and approached wide-ranging goals. Woody Strode's 1950s transformation from football star to actor was the harbinger of hard-edged western heroes later played by Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. Sidney Poitier's Buck and the Preacher provided a narrative helmed by a groundbreaking African American director and offered unconventionally rich roles for women. Mask moves from these discussions to consider blaxploitation westerns and an analysis of Jeff Kanew's hard-to-find 1972 documentary about an all-Black rodeo. The book addresses how these movies set the stage for modern-day westploitation films like Django Unchained. A first-of-its kind survey, Black Rodeo illuminates the figure of the Black cowboy while examining the intersection of African American film history and the western"-- Provided by publisher.
Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop
"A weave of biography, criticism, and memoir, Shine Bright is Danyel Smith's intimate history of Black women's music as the foundational story of American pop. Smith has been writing this history for more than five years. But as a music fan, and then as an essayist, editor (Vibe, Billboard), and podcast host (Black Girl Songbook), she has been living this history since she was a latchkey kid listening to 'Midnight Train to Georgia' on the family stereo. Smith's detailed narrative begins with Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved woman who sang her poems, and continues through the stories of Mahalia Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Mariah Carey, as well as the under-considered careers of Marilyn McCoo, Deniece Williams, and Jody Watley. Shine Bright is an overdue paean to musical masters whose true stories and genius have been hidden in plain sight--and the book Danyel Smith was born to write." -- description from publisher's website.
Running Sideways: The Olympic Champion Who Made Track and Field History
"The inspiring story of Pauline Davis, a Bahamian sprinter who fought through poverty, inequality, and racism to compete in five Olympic Games and become the first woman from the Caribbean to win Olympic gold. She would inspire an entire nation and go on to become the first Black woman elected to the international governing body of athletics"-- Provided by publisher.