"For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us."
Millions watched last month as Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration, spoke to the weight of history. Her inaugural poem "The Hill We Climb" captured the whole country’s attention with a call to step forward "aflame and unafraid." With her words, she took her own step onto the historical stage, minutes after Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to take the vice president’s oath of office. History was watching. History was being made.
This February the Free Library is again proud to celebrate Black History Month through affirming programs and resources for all ages and backgrounds that center Black voices, Black achievements, and Black lives.
- This year we are excited to add The HistoryMakers to our free digital resources. With your Free Library card, you can access the country’s largest archive of African American oral history videos, with stories from history makers in politics, art, science, education, activism, business, media, and entertainment. You can search the archive of high-quality primary source videos and transcripts by name, date, geography, topic, or keyword.
- And while you’re checking out the Free Library’s digital resources, be sure to explore the digital archives of ten historic African American newspapers, which were recently added to the Free Library’s collection of free databases.
- Discover the Philadelphia-based poet, journalist, activist, and educator Alice Dunbar-Nelson through The Rosenbach’s digital exhibition I Am an American!: The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, which offers a close-up look at her diaries, letters, photographs, and published writing.
- Gather virtually for an evening of self-care grounded in the salon-style traditions of the Harlem Renaissance. Chef Jena Harris and professor Psyche Williams-Forson will guide you in making sustaining food and learning about how authors, artists, and activists have built movements that center on radical self-love.
- Listen to the online premiere of "A Different Kind of Song: Unsung Stories of Black Women in Classical Music,", which features the unsung stories of Black women in classical music, presented by the Parkway Central Library Music Department and ENA Ensemble.
- Play a month-long round of Black History Month Instagram bingo with the Field Teen Center.
- Nerd out at the Rare Book Department’s Collector’s Showcase, featuring five local collectors who have spent years preserving and celebrating the work of Black writers and artists.
- Log on for the Free Library’s virtual Author Event with Michael Eric Dyson, whose new book Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America, looks at the lives of Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Rev. Clementa Pinkney, Emmett Till, Eric Garner, and Hadiya Pendleton as catalysts for America’s long-needed voyage toward a racial reckoning and redemption.
- Read and discuss an excerpt from Barack Obama’s newest bestselling memoir, A Promised Land, in which he writes about one of his signature initiatives—the Affordable Health Care Act—and explore what Obama’s legacy means to you.
Whether you are signing on for a virtual program or using the Free Library’s digital resources to learn on your own, we invite you to find stories this month that inspire you to be—as Amanda Gorman put it—"aflame and unafraid" to make history.