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 (10 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

Making Her Mark Spotlight: Poetry and Movement Building

by Suzanna Urminska and Sam Perduta Our words carry power—whether as balm or as burnish, our words have the power to come together to form poetry that recalls and reconnects a range of human experiences both personal and…

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Reference Desk: Candid Conversations with Leslie and Dave!

The New Year is a time to reaffirm commitments and resolve to meet new goals. Leslie Walker , Interim Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Dave Edwards , Interim CEO of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, are…

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Memories of the Golden Age of Hip Hop

I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses Can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries Lyrically perform armed robbery - "Triumph (feat. Cappadonna)" by Wu-Tang Clan, 1997 I am a rap fan.…

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Picture Book Highlights | Black History Month: Biographies

Throughout February, in celebration of Black History Month, Picture Book Highlights will focus on books written and / or illustrated by African American authors and illustrators. Today to close out the month, we take a look at…

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Dr. Rebecca Cole: Pioneering Philadelphia Doctor and African American Health Advocate

One of the joys of my profession is not knowing who will spark my curiosity to continue learning about something or someone. To celebrate Black History Month this year, I let my curiosity guide me to inventors and scientists either born…

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Emory C. Malick: Trailblazing African American Pilot

Bessie Coleman is known for being the first black women to get a pilot’s license. But have you ever wondered who the first Black man was to get his pilot’s license? Meet Emory Conrad Malick , a biracial man, born on December…

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Philly Jazz Legends: The Heath Brothers

This is the seventh in a series of posts  highlighting major figures in Philadelphia jazz history. Every one of the bolded album titles below can be streamed free with your library card via Alexander Street’s Jazz Music…

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Black Authors and Voices: Podcasts from the Author Events Archive

To commemorate and celebrate the scope of Black History Month, you can jump into our Author Events podcast archive , which dates back almost 25 years! There you’ll find an astonishing wealth of Black voices, perspectives, and…

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Recommended YA Reads for Black History Month

Looking for YA titles that celebrate Black lives? Dig into these recommended #OwnVoices reads! Whether you’re into short stories, fantastical worlds, hard-hitting realistic fiction, or coming-of-age love stories, we’ve got…

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Picture Book Highlights | Black History Month: Hair

Throughout February, in celebration of Black History Month , Picture Book Highlights will focus on books written and / or illustrated by African American authors and illustrators. Let’s talk about hair! All these books feature…

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Introducing the HistoryMakers Digital Archive!

What do Guion Bluford , Angela Davis , Hank Aaron , Maya Angelou , Katherine G. Johnson , Eartha Kitt , Sonny Rollins , Gordon Parks , Ntozake Shange , and E. Lynn Harris all have in common? They are phenomenal Black people who have…

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Picture Book Highlights | Black History Month: Grandparents

Throughout February, in celebration of Black History Month, Picture Book Highlights will focus on books written and / or illustrated by African American authors and illustrators. Today we will explore books about grandparents!…

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Repetition, Rhythm, and Sometimes Rhyme

Ask a teen if they have a favorite poem and the answer may surprise you. Young people are experts in self-expression, and what higher form of self-expression is there than the poem? It probably doesn’t hurt that we introduce…

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Black History Month | Spotlight on Graphic Novels

I’ve written about some of my favorite graphic novels featuring Black History before in a previous post , and those titles like March by Congressman John Lewis are still fantastic. However, it's always a good time to…

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Reimagining a Recipe for Radical Self Care

by Jena Harris and Suzanna Urminska "In every race, in every nation and in every clime in every period of history there is always an eager-eyed group of youthful patriots who seriously set themselves to right the wrongs done to…

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Black History Month | Black Generational Wealth Series

During Black History Month, the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement (OBME) is hosting a series on Black Generational Wealth , in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Office of Economic Opportunity…

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There’s Always Something New to Discover at the Free Library!

The first Saturday of February is Take Your Child to the Library Day! This holiday , invented by two librarians, encourages families to make a trip to their neighborhood library with their young learners leading the way. As an added…

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Picture Book Highlights | Black History Month

This February, commemorate Black History Month with books that celebrate the history, culture, and beauty of Black Americans. Written and illustrated by #OwnVoices creators, these books are the perfect way to honor this important month.…

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Toni Stone: The First Female Player in the Negro League

Have you seen the movie A League of Their Own ? This famous movie highlights the early years of the Women’s Baseball League in 1943. However, if you were a Negro woman during the 1940s, segregation laws forbid you from playing.…

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Podcasts