African American and Black History Month
February is African American and Black History Month, a time to recognize, celebrate, and honor the rich and diverse history and important contributions and achievements of Black and African Americans. We’re celebrating all month with virtual programs for all ages, including a genealogy workshop, Virtual Storytime, and art activities.
In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson—historian, teacher, and author—founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In February 1926, Woodson proposed the establishment of Negro History Week to honor the history of African Americans, and their contributions to American life. Dr. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History, chose the second week of February because it commemorates the birthdays of 2 men who greatly affected the African American community: Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). Negro History Week became Black History Week in the early 1970s. In 1976, the week-long observance was expanded to a month in honor of the nation’s bicentennial.
Black History Month continues to be supported by ASALH, its founding organization, who also designates its annual theme. The 2022 theme is Black Health and Wellness.
Wednesday, February 16, 4 pm
African and African American Tales
Storyteller Michael D. McCarty entertains and educates with tales from Africa and of African Americans that depict the challenges and triumphs of Black people throughout history. For kids and families.
Thursday, February 17, 4 pm
Our Stories in Vivid Color: Black Histories & Futures
Are you a storyteller? A social justice warrior? In this dynamic conversation with global human rights organization Breakthrough, learn how Black women and girls are driving culture change, and how their histories and futures intersect with queer, disabled, and diasporic stories that are too often erased. For teens and young adults.
Friday, February 18, 11 am
Smarty Pants Storytime: African American & Black History Month
Let’s get ready for school! Enjoy books, songs, rhymes, and movement activities celebrating African American & Black History Month while learning school readiness skills and having fun. For kids ages 2 – 5 with their parent or caregiver.
Wednesday, February 23, 4 pm
New to the world of poetry? Join us as we highlight a few notable African American and Black poets and review their work to help us learn the basics of poetic structure and the art of the spoken word. For ages 13 – 17.
Heart and Hand Virtual Book Talk: The Legacy of Bruce’s Beach
Join us for a conversation about the legacy of Bruce’s Beach, and the role of community and media in spreading awareness about social justice issues. Library Director Skye Patrick will moderate an insightful conversation between Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson, historian and author of Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era and Dominique DiPrima, host of First Things First on KBLA TALK 1580. This program will also feature a special appearance from Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, an instrumental leader in the County’s effort to return Bruce’s Beach to its descendants. For adults.
In Conversation: Patrisse Cullors and Angela Davis
In An Abolitionist’s Handbook, artist, author, and organizer Patrisse Cullors charts a framework for how everyday activists can effectively fight for an abolitionist present and future. Filled with relatable pedagogy on the history of abolition, a reimagining of what reparations look like for Black lives, and real-life anecdotes, An Abolitionist’s Handbook offers a bold and humanistic approach to how to be a modern-day abolitionist. Join Cullors online as she virtually discusses her latest work with political activist, scholar, and philosopher Angela Davis. This program is moderated by LA County Library Director Skye Patrick and presented in partnership with LA County Library as part of its Trailblazers in Conversation series. For adults.
Tattooing the African Diaspora with James Spooner
While Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are deeply connected to tattoo history, the industry is riddled with misinformation when it comes to dark skin. James Spooner, who specializes in tattooing richly pigmented skin, will dispel those myths, and advise on how to get a quality tattoo. He will also discuss African body modification traditions and their ties to current tattoo practices. For adults.
Juneteenth is a day of remembrance commemorating the end of slavery on June 19, 1865. Join us for a celebration of freedom with storyteller and educator, Binnie Tate Wilkin, who will engage us with Juneteenth history, stories, folktales, and personal reflections. For teens and adults.
Eyes on Snapshots
Our Black Resource Center and The Community Writers Group of Los Angeles, a multi-generational group of writers passionate about preserving African American history and culture through the writing of personal narratives, invite you to experience an afternoon of memoirs and personal portraits. For adults.
Self-taught folk artist Clementine Hunter (1886 – 1988) spent most of her life on the Melrose Plantation in Louisiana. At the age of 55, she started painting the life she lived capturing over 5,000 scenes of backbreaking work, everyday life, religious life, and celebrations. Learn about this prolific American artist in this video featuring Rose Mitchell, Black Resource Center Librarian, and create your own Clementine Hunter-inspired artwork with supplies in a take-home kit. Supplies are limited. Please call ahead to your local library to check availability. For Adults.
Dance and sing along to a free streaming music playlist of LGBTQ+ Black artists. From musicians that paved the way, to next gen artists pushing the envelope, explore queer Black artists from a variety of genres.
Located in A C Bilbrew Library, the Black Resource Center was established as a special service of LA County Library in 1978 to serve the informational and educational needs of Black and African Americans and the larger population by supporting research and study on social, historical and cultural aspects unique to the Black and African American experience.
One of most indelible speeches of the Civil Rights Movement is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s eloquent speech I Have a Dream from the August 28, 1963, rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Dr. King and other Black ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 to expand the struggle against racism and discrimination. By early 1963, Dr. King and the SCLC launched non-violent demonstrations to protest racial discrimination in Birmingham, Alabama, then one of the most segregated cities in the United States. In reaction to the violent police actions, President John F. Kennedy proposed a wide-ranging civil rights legislation to Congress.
Dr. King, along with other civil rights leaders, then organized a massive march on Washington, DC, to urge Congress to pass Kennedy’s bill. On August 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of a million people gathered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to hear King and others. The highlight of the rally was Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech, which has since defined the civil rights movement, not only for African Americans, but for all people.
The civil rights movement won a significant victory in 1964 when Congress passed The Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination in public places and promoting equal opportunities in education and employment. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered today for his vision and his legacy.
For More Information
I Have a Dream Speech
Provides the text and audio of the speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.
The King Center
Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work, the King Center offers a wide range of information biographical information on Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, the King Holiday, and other historical information.
The Seattle Times: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Contains stories and photos from The Seattle Times as wells as time lines for Martin Luther King, Jr. and for the Civil Rights movement. Click on His Words to hear excerpts from King’s most famous speeches, including two excerpts from I Have a Dream and one from the speech Dr. King gave the day before he was assassinated in 1968.
Stanford University: The King Papers Project
The project is a major research effort to assemble and disseminate information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the social movements he worked for. The Frequently Requested Documents include the I Have a Dream speech, which can be viewed in multiple languages by clicking on the flag icons. The site also includes biographical information, King’s sermons, and other material.
Often referred to as the Negro National Anthem, this song was written by James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson in 1900 for the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It was originally performed by children at its premiere in Jacksonville, Florida. James W. Johnson was a notable poet who later went on to become one of the founders of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Rosamond Johnson was a successful composer of music for Broadway.
Lift ev’ry voice and sing, Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.