African-American History Month

African-American History Month is an annual celebration of the accomplishments and achievements by African Americans and is celebrated every February. This event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the creation of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans in 1926. The second week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14. Black communities had celebrated these dates together since the late 19th century. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State in 1970. In 1976 Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial.

The 2019 theme is: Black Migrations. This theme highlights the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and consequently to new social realities.

Here are some of the special programs celebrating African-American History Month at JMRL:
You, The Inventor (for ages 8-11) February 2 at 2-3pm
Traffic lights, folding chairs, super soakers and potato chips. We can thank African American inventors for these creations and more. Through games and activities, learn about some of these inventors and their imaginative inventions, then try out your own inventing skills at the Crozet Library.

Drumcall & Friends Workshop (for ages 8-12) February 7 at 4-5pm
Drum in Black History Month and groove to the beat of African drumming with drummer Whit Whitten. Learn how to celebrate with rhythm and sound at the Gordon Ave Library.

Queen Charlotte: The History of the Black Queen of England (for adults) February 2 at 2-3:30pm
Leontyne Clay Peck, author, educator, and family genealogist will discuss Queen Charlotte’s unique history and legacy (especially in light of the recent marriage of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry) at the Louisa County Library. Mrs. Peck is the author of Our Mother’s Dresses, Silver Children, and Paxton Street.

Black Genealogy Course (for adults) February 9 at 11am-1pm
The Louisa Historical Society will sponsor a beginner’s course in black genealogy to get you started with a working genealogy session. Experienced volunteers will be available to help you learn more about your ancestors.

Buffalo Soldiers (for ages 10+) February 9 at 2-3pm
Trooper George Grady Sr. will be at the Louisa Library to give a historical presentation about the Buffalo Soldiers and their brave past.

Nathaniel Star: Music I Breathe (for adults) February 19 at 6-7pm
Soul singer and songwriter Nathaniel Star discusses the rich history of American-American music and the artists who influenced his own unique and multi-faceted sound. Hear Star perform original songs influenced by multiple genres spanning from funk to jazz to hip-hop at the Northside Library. CDs will be available for purchase.

Bet You Can’t Eat Just One (for ages 5-11) February 21 at 4-4:45pm
Learn about the invention of the potato chip and crunch on some samples at the Northside Library.

Gordon Parks: American Photographers (for adults) February 21 at 6-7pm
Dr. John Edwin Mason, an associated professor with UVa’s Department of History, discusses the impact of Gordon Parks, the acclaimed African-American photographer, writer, and filmmaker at the Northside Library.

And check out the book displays highlighting works by African-American authors at the Central Branch and the Roland E. Beauford Sr. African-American Collection at Gordon Ave.

Black History Month Reads

Every February since its inception in 1976, Black History Month has reminded us about the importance of the struggles, contributions, and achievements of African Americans throughout history. In celebration of Black History Month, here is a selection of novels about African Americans – both real and fictional – written by African American authors:

Dear Martin by Nic Stone – Profiled by a racist police officer in spite of his excellent academic achievements, a disgruntled college youth navigates the prejudices of new classmates and his crush on a white girl by writing a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the hopes that his role model’s teachings will be applicable half a century later.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke – When African-American lawyer Jay Porter jumps into the bayou to save a drowning white woman in Houston, Texas, in 1981, he finds his practice and life in danger when he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving Houston’s elite.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – After Cora, a slave in pre-Civil War Georgia, escapes with another slave, Caesar, they seek the help of the Underground Railroad as they flee from state to state and try to evade a slave catcher, Ridgeway, who is determined to return them to the South.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty – After his down-trodden hometown is removed from the map of California to save the state further embarrassment, a young man undertakes a course of action to draw attention to the town, resulting in a racially charged trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay – Centers on the efforts by Harlem intelligentsia to organize support for the liberation of fascist-controlled Ethiopia. Continue reading