“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.
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
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 XXXII. The Meet the Artists exhibit and related events are for individuals and families of all ages! Learn More