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History & Biography 

February: A Time To Reflect About Black History

In the 1920s, a Chicago scholar named Carter G. Woodson saw a need to promote the scientific study of black life and history. In February 1926, he created what was then called “Negro History Week”. Woodson chose the second week of the month since the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln both occur during that week. Traditionally, the black community honored Douglass and Lincoln at that time of year.

From the study of the two great men, the focus of “Negro History Week” grew to include all aspects of black history and achievement. Schools and communities across the country participated in the celebration, and black history clubs also sprang up.

Over the years Woodson came to believe that a single week was too short a time to encompass all the depth of black history. Though Woodson himself died in 1950, the focus on black history grew to become Black History Month in 1976. The 2011 theme for Black History Month is African Americans and the Civil War.

For more information about Black History Month, please visit the following websites:

African American History Month

Association for the Study of African American Life and History

National Endowment for the Humanities: Black History Month

Smithsonian Education: Black History Month

The Springfield-Greene County Library has a large collection of books about black history. In the catalog, you may also search for biographies and other related subjects under the heading African Americans. Many scholarly titles are housed in the Library’s Reference Collection. The Library also has DVDs and electronic resources about black history.

Some recent titles about black history include:

Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present by Nell Irvin Painter

Dark Days, Bright Nights: from Black Power to Barack Obama by Peniel E. Joseph

Freedom in My Heart:  Voices from the United States National Slavery Museum edited by Cynthia Jacobs Carter

The Warmth of Other Suns: the Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

DVDs:

African American Lives [DVD videorecording]

Black History [DVD videorecording]

A Distant Shore [DVD videorecording] : African Americans of D-Day


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