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 book parties, 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 2021 theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
Friday, February 12, 4 pm
African American and Black History Month Quiz
Are you a history buff or science guru? Put your knowledge to the test and join us for a quiz show highlighting cultural, historical, and scientific contributions by African and Black Americans. For a general audience.
Tuesday, February 16, 4 pm
Natural Beauty Wall Art
Create your own wall art inspired by the many natural hair styles of the African and Black diaspora. For kids.
Thursday, February 18, 4 pm
Book Party: Fancy Party Gowns
Join us for a reading of the inspiring book, Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal, then learn how to fold your own paper origami dress at home. For kids.
Saturday, February 20, 11 am
Author Talk with Robert Lee Johnson
In celebration of African American and Black History Month, local historian, lecturer, and author Robert Lee Johnson joins us to discuss his books Compton and Notable Southern Californians in Black History and speak about his upcoming book on the history of the Watts/Willowbrook area of Los Angeles. For adults.
Saturday, February 20, 1 pm
African American Genealogy Workshop: Celebrating and Tracing your Family History
In celebration of this year’s National Black History Month theme, The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity, professional genealogist and family historian, Charlotte Bocage, will give instructions and provide a wealth of resources to assist in researching your family history. Both beginners and experienced researchers are welcome. For adults.
Monday, February 22, 11 am
Join us for a special African American and Black History Month Storytime! For kids.
Tuesday, February 23 at 4 pm
Book Party: Mae Among the Stars
Join us for a reading of the inspiring book, Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, then learn how to draw a rocket ship orbiting around the solar system! For kids.
Wednesday, February 24 at 6 pm
Interview with Library Director Skye Patrick
Join us for an insightful and thought-provoking conversation about African American and Black representation in the library field, and throughout history. Skye will discuss her career path, books important to her life, and her thoughts on how representation of Black women in our society is evolving.
One of our 3 special edition 19th Amendment Centennial library cards features Moses X Ball’s Resistance and Restitution. Ball’s artwork depicts 5 important Black woman suffragists who fought for an intersectional vision linking race, class, and gender: Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Nannie H. Burroughs, Mary B. Talbert, and Frances E.W. Harper. Moses’ work declares that they deserve proper recognition for their accomplishments with improving the lives of all women.
Moses is known for painting images depicting the Black experience, from history to the present day. Born and raised in South LA, Moses works with community residents on the murals he creates, reflecting and inspiring those who live in the areas he seeks to beautify. Previous projects include Metro’s Heart of Hyde Park mural at Crenshaw Blvd and Slauson Ave, which depicts South LA community activists and local business owners alongside neighborhood youth (including Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom); Gateway to Greatness for the Expo Center at Exposition Park, featuring Olympians and Paralympians of Color; and Promise, an art therapy/public art program in collaboration with Blue Shield, focused on helping South LA youth and youth in the foster system cope with obstacles and express themselves.
Moses—who actually spent some time working in a library—was recently profiled by Spectrum 1 News in his studio, and visiting our Huntington Park Library.
To pick up a Resistance and Restitution library card, visit any of our Sidewalk Service libraries.
Jazz: A Musical Exploration (for adults)
Celebrate African American and Black History Month by learning about the Underground Railroad and quilt codes. It is believed secret codes and symbols were sewn into quilts and used as visual maps to assist fugitive slaves in their escape to freedom.
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.