February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by and recognition of African Americans in U.S. history.
What we know today as Black History Month has its origins in "Negro History Week," created by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans in 1915. That September, Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The group chose the second week of February to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass's birthdays.
Mayors of various cities across the country began issuing proclamations for "Negro History Week" in the years that followed and on some college campuses, the week-long event evolved into a month-long observance.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling up on all American citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Each year the President endorses a specific theme for the month. This year's theme is "African Americans and the Arts," making the month an exploration and celebration of "visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression."
Johnson County Library has so many resources it might be hard to choose which to read, listen to, or participate in, so it’s good we get to celebrate all month long. Black History Month began on Feb. 1 and ends March 1.
Johnson County Library has a variety of resources to read, listen to, or participate in, so it’s good we get to celebrate all month long.
Get Started with Primary Sources
- Associated Press Collections Online – Includes news coverage on Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Riders, desegregation, voting rights and more.
- American Civil Liberties Union Papers – 20th century ACLU records focusing on race, civil rights and more.
- Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive – Documents and research guides related to the history of slavery, abolition and emancipation.
- The Legacy of Corinthian Nutter – Learn about the major contributions Ms. Nutter made in Webb v. School District 90 (located in Merriam, KS), which ended segregation five years before Brown v. the Board of Education.
- JoCo History Collections - Historical photographs and maps documenting the people, places and organizations of Johnson County.
- Olathe’s early African-American community –Kansas’ anti-slavery legacy offered a fresh start for many former slaves and their families after the Emancipation Proclamation.
- African-American Stories on Kanopy – Hundreds of films, documentaries, and series exploring everything from current events to the history and cultural legacy of African Americans.
- The Past is Prologue - A series of programs featuring topics that were often left out, glossed over or misrepresented in our history books, such as The Past is Prologue: Black Oscars. Other programs include: Meet the Authors: Dr. Fredrick Gooding Jr. with Dr. Sylviane Greensword and Mr. Marcellis Perkins and How to Rightly Write About Race When Afraid to Say the Wrong Thing
- Celebrate 100 Years of the Negro Leagues - 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues – learn about its development, players, and legacy.
- Read More Black Authors: Kids and Teens – Celebrate Black voices with this collection of both fiction and non-fiction titles for younger readers.
- Upbeat Black History Month – A collection of uplifting African American stories from throughout our country's history, with an emphasis on the underknown.
- Black History Month-A selection of new non-fiction titles about the history of Americans of African descent in the USA.
- Black History Month: Biographies for Younger Readers: A selection of biographies about African Americans for younger readers.