For Adults

Celebrate Black History

01/20/2021 | Black History, History, What We're Reading

“Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

– President Gerald R. Ford, 1976

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements of African Americans. It is a great time to re-read a classic or favorite, find out about an author you have never read, reflect on what you remember, or discover a piece of history you didn't know.

Carter G. Woodson

There was a time in our nation’s history when the achievements and good deeds of Americans included pertinent facts about almost every group of people living in the United States – with the notable exception of people of color, and more specifically, African Americans. Present-day, during the month of February, we celebrate African American accomplishments and contributions to the United States, our teachers, historians, lawyers, doctors, political activists, writers, engineers, dancers, athletes, musicians, artists, and so much more.

Did you know that observance of Black History Month began in 1976 back when President Gerald Ford was at the helm? Prior to this, African American history was actually observed during the second week in February as “Negro History Week,” which began in 1926. Negro History Week was the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson-PhD and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded in 1915 as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson reportedly settled on the second week in February because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (U.S. National Archives: Emancipation Proclamation) and Frederick Douglass (African American Civil Rights Activist). Learn more about Carter G. Woodson here as well as the ASALH here. Several books on Woodson's life and legacy for adults and kids can be found in IndyPL's catalog here.

The Library has books, music, movies, and digital collections related to African American history as well as the African American Experience database. If you are in need of suggestions for what to check out next, this page is a great place to start!


It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.

President Barack Obama, 2016

Pro Quest Black Freedom Struggle in the United States

ProQuest has created a site to support learning more about the foundation of ongoing racial injustice in the U.S. and the fight against it. This resource contains primary documents about people and events in African American History. It is free to share with anyone - no library card needed!

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: Challenges and Triumphs in the Pursuit of Equality

Virtual Events

2021 Meet the Artists XXXIII

2021 Meet the Artists XXXIII Exhibits & Virtual Events
Don't miss the opportunity to view the works of prominent local African American artists during one of Indianapolis' premier cultural events, Meet the Artists XXXIII. The Meet the Artists exhibit and related virtual events are for individuals and families of all ages! See all of the Meet the Artists Virtual Events.

Under the Interstate: Highway Displacement in Indianapolis
Tuesday, February 23 at 6:30 pm Register
Explore the construction of interstate highways through Indianapolis during the late 1950s to 1970s. Mr. Paul R. Mullins, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at IUPUI, will examine some of the grassroots resistance to highway displacement and the coalitions across class and color lines. This event is being held as an online meeting/webinar. You will be emailed login instructions approximately 24 hours before the event.

Resources & Online Events from The Library of Congress

Header from African Amerian History Month webpage featuring a Black family from several centuries ago

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. Visit the joint web portal highlighting collections, resources and events.

e-Books & Streaming

You can download e-books or audiobooks, stream films, documentaries, and television shows free with your IndyPL library card. Detailed information about each of our services is available on our download and stream page.

Other Online Resources

Gallery of Photos from Digital Indy

To learn even more about fascinating and inspiring black history makers, visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library. The Center is dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots.

Center for Black Literature & Culture Central Library