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Library on Topic: Black History Month

Gabby Campbell
Article Date
January 30, 2024

Throughout February, Americans honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the African American community. Created in 1926 by academic Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month was originally a week-long celebration in February. It wasn’t until 1976 that President Gerald Ford declared it a month-long event.

To this day the accomplishments and contributions of the African American community continue to shape American culture, politics, and entertainment. During this month, we pay tribute to all the generations before us that struggled and fought for equal rights. Without the accomplishments of activists like Fredrick Douglas, Harriett Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks, minority inclusion would not be what it is today.

This February, we invite you to check out books from authors like Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Langston Hughes and films from directors like Spike Lee, Ryan Coogler, Jordan Peele or Ava Duvernay. Also don’t forget to RSVP to enjoy live jazz music and local art at the Black History Month Reception: An Evening of Art and Jazz at the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 24.

Check out the list below for even more book and movie recommendations that you can check out at your nearest library location.


  • Fruitvale Station
    • The drama centered on the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant, a vibrant 22-year-old Bay Area father who was senselessly gunned down by BART officers on New Year's Day in 2009, and whose murder sent shockwaves through the nation after being captured on camera by his fellow passengers.
  • Malcolm X
    • Spike Lee's most ambitious film to date, 1992's Malcolm X is an epic biographical drama centered on the controversial civil rights leader, with a superb Oscar-nominated Denzel Washington in the title role.
  • Selma
    • Dramatizes the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches.
  • A Raisin in the Sun
    • An insurance check can allow the Youngers to escape their difficult life in a Chicago apartment, but escape represents different things to each family member.
  • The Color Purple
    • The heart-wrenching story of a young black girl in the early 20th century who is forced into a brutal marriage and separated from her sister.
  • The Hate you Give
    • Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr tries to find her voice in order to stand up for what's right.

Adult Books

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
    • Presents a collection of critical essays on Hurston's "Their eyes were watching God." - (Baker & Taylor)
  • The New Jim Crow
    • Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.
  • A Gathering of Old Men
    • A powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man--set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s.
  • Between the World and Me
    • The author presents a history of racial discrimination in the United States and a narrative of his own personal experiences of contemporary race relations, offering possible resolutions for the future.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    • The poet recalls the anguish of her childhood in Arkansas and her adolescence in northern slums.
  • Americanah
    • "A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected"-- Provided by publisher.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    • A commemorative hardcover edition of the definitive account of this complex, controversial, and charismatic leader of the sixties' black revolution features a probing epilogue by the late Alex Haley. - (Baker & Taylor)
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
    • An intimate and vivid look at the legendary life of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist who evolved into a chart-topping chanteuse and committed civil rights activist. 

Children’s Books

  • New Kid
    • Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. - Jerry Craft (graphic novel)
  • Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
    • A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.
  • This Jazz Man
    • In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional This Old Man gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. 
  • The Case for Loving
    • The story of interracial couple Mildred and Richard Perry, who got married in Washington, D.C., and were arrested after they returned to Virginia, and took their legal case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The Other Side
    • Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town. - (Baker & Taylor)
  • Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • A picture book biography introduces the ideas and accomplishments of a gifted and influential speaker by using some of his own words to tell the story. - (Baker & Taylor)
  • Hair Love
    • "It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hairstyle in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters"--Provided by publisher.
  • Please Baby, Please
    • A toddler's antics keep her mother busy as she tries to feed her, watch her on the playground, give her a bath, and put her to bed. - Spike Lee (Pic-K+)
  • Rebound
    • In the summer of 1988, twelve-year-old Chuck Bell is sent to stay with his grandparents, where he discovers jazz and basketball and learns more about his family's past.
  • The Undefeated 44
    • "A dynamic and hip collective biography that presents 44 of America's greatest movers and shakers from Frederick Douglass to Aretha Franklin to Barack Obama, written by ESPN's and illustrated with dazzling portraits by Rob Ball"--Provided by publisher.

Want to learn more about what the Library's doing for Black History Month? Check out our webpage. 

Northeast Branch Updates:
Starting Monday, December 4, 2023, the Northeast Branch will be temporarily closed for HVAC renovations. Click here for more information.