Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month and African American History as a whole, explore our resources on African American history and culture including famous African Americans From Philadelphia, Poets and Poetry, Speculative Fiction, Nonfiction, Books for Early Readers, The Harlem Renaissance, Tuskegee Airmen, Scientists and Inventors, Politics, Black Colleges and Universities, and Black History Month events throughout Philadelphia area.

Black History Month

Links

  • Black Inventors A to Z

    About.com's biographical guide to African American inventors also contains links to additional content including African American patent holders and a trivia quiz.
  • Top Ten African American Inventors

    A brief slideshow from Scholastic Magazine for grades 3-4.
  • "America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us" by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)

    The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying. The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.
  • African American History

    Major Speeches: Speeches from outstanding African American orators.
  • African American History: Major Speeches

    Speeches from outstanding African American orators
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia

    Exhibitions, collections, educational programs, and more. This is the official web site of the museum, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the culture of African Americans in Philadelphia and beyond.
  • African American Senators

    Photos and short biographies of African Americans senators, starting with Hiram Revels of Mississippi in 1870, the first African American U.S.senator.
  • Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in University City

    Black History Month Events @ Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in University City
  • Behind The Veil - Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South

    A selection of 100 recorded oral history interviews chronicling African-American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s.
  • Bethune-Cookman College

    Noted educator Mary McLeod Bethune founded what later became known as Bethune-Cookman College in 1904.
  • Black Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database

    This database serves as a starting point for relatives or researchers as they begin to piece together individual experiences of black soldiers and sailors in the Civil War.
  • Black Dispatches

    African American Contributions to Union Intelligence During the Civil War.
  • Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

    Located just outside of Philadelphia and founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in America.
  • Desegregation of the Armed Forces

    A Collection of Documents detailing President Truman's decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Hampton University

    Located in southeastern Virginia, Hampton University offers a broad range of technical, liberal arts, pre-professional, professional, and graduate degree programs.
  • Howard University

    This HBCU is located in Washington, D.C.
  • Lincoln University

    Lincoln University is located in southern Chester County, about 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Famous alumni include Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall.
  • Morehouse College

    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., filmmaker Shelton "Spike" Lee, and Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin Moses are among the renowned alumni of Atlanta, Georgia's Morehouse College.
  • NAACP’s Criminal Justice Fact Sheet

    Includes information on Incarceration Trends in America, Racial Disparities in Incarceration, Drug Sentencing Disparities, Effects of Incarceration, and Fair Chance Hiring.
  • National Constitution Center

    Daily events and activities including Decoding the Document, a workshop that examines the museum’s own rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, and the interactive Breaking Barriers show, spotlighting the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson and other barrier-breaking African-Americans.
  • Notable African Americans

    Short biographies of prominent African Americans from all walks of life.
  • Notable African-American Government Officials

    Important African American Government Officials
  • PBS’s Teaching Your Child About Black History

    "Instead of shying away from hard truths, parents can explain that a long time ago, people were separated by the color of their skin. Some people did not think that was fair, and men and women of all races united to make a change. This is a straight-forward example that teaches empathy, cooperation, and the commonality of a shared goal. It is also a way to teach children how to connect their personal experiences with the larger world." - Nefertiti Austin
  • Physicists of the African Diaspora

    Short biographies of African American scientists prominent in physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics.
  • Project Ready’s Allies and Antiracism

    A free online professional development curriculum by UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, that helps to teach allyship.
  • Talking About Race

    The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture today launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.
  • The 1619 Project

    The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
  • The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar Nelson – I Am An American!

    The Rosenbach’s exhibition, “I Am an American!” The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, explores these questions through the lens of an under-studied local author, teacher, and advocate for social justice who changed American society—starting more than one hundred years ago.
  • The Combahee River Collective Statement

    A collective of Black feminists who have been meeting together since 1974. [1] During that time we have been involved in the process of defining and clarifying our politics, while at the same time doing political work within our own group and in coalition with other progressive organizations and movements. The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.
  • The Faces of Science

    African Americans in the Sciences: This site contains profiles of African Americans who have contributed to science and engineering. Many profiles contain photographs of the scientist.
  • The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences

    This site contains profiles of African Americans who have contributed to science and engineering. Many profiles contain photographs of the scientist.
  • The Philly Black History Syllabus: 13 Must-read Books to Understand Our City

    Experts share what books spotlighting Philadelphia you should be reading during Black History Month.
  • Timeline of African American History

    From the Library of Congress, a timeline of events from 1852-1925 put together to support a special digital collection entitled "African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection".

Alice Dunbar-Nelson by explore

Free Library resources in support of the Rosenbach's Digital Exhibition: "I Am an American!" The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson

View the full list

Biographies For Kids by explore

Read biographies of famous and historical African Americans.

View the full list

Barack Obama: The Making of an American President (14 items)

Learn more about the life and achievement of President Obama.

African Americans Win the West (12 items)

Pioneering African Americans of the Old West.

African Americans in the Cinema (9 items)

Lights, Camera, Action! Dig into the world of Black filmmakers, actors and actresses.

Memoirs and Reminiscences by African American Authors (14 items)

Autobiographical selections.

Award-Winning African American Authors (14 items)

Books by prize-winning writers.

African American Revolutionaries and Inventors from Philadelphia (6 items)

Inspiring stories and historical perspective of African American Revolutionaries and Inventors from Philadelphia through the years.

African American Quilts (8 items)

Discover the beauty of these treasures of American folk art.

African American Celebrations (11 items)

Explore the rich cultural traditions that are an integral part of the African American experience.

African American Books for Early Readers (20 items)

Books starring African Americans for Early Readers.

Electronic Resources

Upcoming Events


Blog Posts

Celebrating Juneteenth!

The Free Library is celebrating Juneteenth! Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of enslavement in the United States and a time when we come together to celebrate this monumental occasion across the country, within our…

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New Children's Books for Celebrating Juneteenth!

In 2020, the city of Philadelphia declared June 19th a city holiday in recognition of Juneteenth, an important day in the history of African Americans and our country. New children's books have been released in the last couple of…

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Award-Winning Black Authors and The Newbery’s 100th Anniversary

The John Newbery Award is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022! Commonly referred to as "The Newbery", the literary award is given each year by the American Library Association (ALA) to the author and their book…

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Robert Bogle and Philadelphia’s Dynastic Black Caterers

Philadelphia’s Food Service History is Black History From the Historical Marker Database , photographed by Carolyn Martienssen, June 2015 You might have noticed on South 8th Street a historical marker that reads: “A noted…

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Newspapers: A Guide Into the Past

Many of us may get our news from online sources these days—social media feeds provide a constant source of information about everything from policy proposals, the weather, celebrity news, and more, as the events unfold in…

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Black Authors and Voices: Podcasts from the Author Events Archive

Our podcast archive dates back more than 25 years and features scores of author talks to help you commemorate, celebrate, and reflect on Black History Month. But even in just this past year, we’ve hosted an incredible variety of…

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The Quilts of Gee's Bend

History is found in the pages of a textbook—or so I thought! This February, celebrate Black History Month by learning more about the history of Black quilt makers! Do you know about the (Quilt) Pieces of Black History series…

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Picture Book Highlights | Black History Month

This February as we celebrate Black History Month, we want to recommend some pictures books published in 2021 that were written and/or illustrated by Black creators. In the following list, you’ll find books about history, love of…

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Early Black Comic Book Writers, Illustrators, and Newspaper Cartoonists

Are you a fan of comic book characters such as Marvel Comics' Black Panther or DC Comics' Black Lighting ? These Black superhero comics gained renewed popularity in recent years as a result of blockbuster movies and TV series.…

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Hangin’ with Hank: Imagining Louise

by Germaine Ingram On Sunday, February 13, at 6:00 p.m., live on YouTube , I’ll be in conversation with the tap/jazz aficionado and irrepressible raconteur Hank Smith on his every-so-often show Hangin’ with Hank .…

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Celebrate Health and Wellness this Black History Month Throughout Philadelphia

Black History Month is a time to illuminate the past, to remember past trials and tribulations, and to celebrate the contributions of Black people in this country. The theme of this year’s celebration is Health and…

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New Titles Coming to the Free Library in February!

It may be chilly outside, but the Free Library has some titles to warm you up this month! Young Children (up to 2nd Grade) Hey You!: An Empowering Celebration of Growing Up Black by Dapo Adeola This book addresses—honestly, yet…

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Harriet Tubman’s Legacy

Araminta (Minty) Ross was born a slave in March 1821. As a free woman, she was reborn under the name of Harriet Tubman. As the conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet was named the Moses of her people. Harriet Tubman got the…

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National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)

Today is the 36th annual celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) , started in 1974 by the Women’s Sports Foundation . The purpose of the foundation is to provide support, resources, and communities for young…

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Celebrating Black History Month at the Free Library

This February, the Free Library is proud to commemorate Black History Month , honoring the triumphs and achievements of Black Americans throughout U.S. history and celebrating Black history, culture, and heritage. Black History Month…

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African American Art Collecting and Research with Philadelphia Author Sherry Howard

Updated Tuesday, December 7, 2021 Sherry L. Howard is a Philadelphia-based art collector and researcher who primarily focuses on local African American art and artists. She writes about her experience in the world of art auctions…

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We Have a New Federal Holiday — Juneteenth!

Two months ago was the first official celebration of Juneteenth as a national holiday. On Thursday, June 17, 2021, Congress passed and presented the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act to President Joe Biden, who signed the bill…

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Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom and Cuisine

African American Independence Day, widely referred to as Juneteenth, originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865. Though the Emancipation Proclamation, issued in 1863, freed millions of slaves in confederate states, African Americans in…

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The Commemoration of Juneteenth

The oldest known celebration of the end of enslavement in U.S. history, Juneteenth is a day that recognizes freedom and liberation. Juneteenth, a combination of the words "June" and "nineteenth, centers Black lived…

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Re-Creating Our World: Join Us for the One Book, One Philadelphia Finale

Eight weeks of programs diving into The Tradition , Jericho Brown’s collection of poetry and the One Book, One Philadelphia 2021 title , have gone by in the blink of an eye. We read, we wrote, we danced, we made music and art, and…

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Podcasts