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.
New JoCoHistory Blog
In May 1951, county officials and a crowd of residents gathered in the courthouse square in Olathe. County leaders, with the help of Masons, were laying the cornerstone for the new, 1952 Johnson County Courthouse. Inside the cornerstone, officials placed a small, hand-made copper box – a time capsule left for future generations to discover. After seventy years safely tucked away, the still-sealed box was retrieved when that courthouse was being demolished in 2020. The Johnson County Museum accepted the time capsule and its contents into its collections and permanent care and opened it up. What was inside the box? That is the topic of the Museum’s newest special exhibit, Inside the Box: A 1951 Time Capsule, which opens Feb. 3, 2024. Visit the JoCoHistory Blog to learn about five reasons you should visit this short-run exhibition!
Hello and welcome to this week's No Wait Wednesday, where we take a look at an item on our New Release shelves at one of our local branch Libraries that's available to check out right now that deserves a second look - and sometimes a first one, too. Hundreds of new books come into the library each week, and it's impossible to keep an eye on everything. This is where your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff comes in - we're always available to recommend a book (or a movie, or an audiobook, or a video game) that you might possibly love. This week we'll look at a title in translation that's moving, reflective, and all about mother-daughter relationships - in short, it's perfect for your book club: Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey.
Shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize, Still Born focuses on two women, Alina and Laura, who are both successful and single women in their 30s who are from Mexico City but live in Paris. Alina runs an art gallery while Laura is pursuing a PhD in literature. Both are the best of friends and have many things in common, including a longstanding pact to never have children. Eventually, however, Alina starts to have second thoughts, and returns to Mexico with a partner, Aurelio, but encounters difficulties conceiving. Initially taken aback, Laura, who has had her tubes tied, eventually travels back to support her friend and finds herself grappling with issues of motherhood herself, striking up a friendship with a neighbor who has a son, both recovering from an abusive relationship. Alina eventually becomes pregnant, but is told that her child has a high chance of developing a severe neurological disability, throwing all her plans into chaos.
Throughout it all, these two women support each other, and the novel excels at examining the nuances of motherhood with all the pressures as well as the joys it can bring. Using spare, precisely chosen language, Nettel digs deep emotionally, drawing out various and heartfelt perspectives of the different characters. Powerful, emotional, and award-winning, if you've never read a translated work, pick up Guadalupe Nettel's novel and give it a shot. Find this and other book group picks at your local library.
Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next week!
-Gregg, Johnson County Library Readers Advisory Librarian
With Toolkit Tuesday , we share Library tools you might not know about! This week's tool: Suggest for Purchase.
Have you ever gone to the Library catalog to look for a book, a movie, an album, a database, or whatever, only to find (cue sad trombone) we don't have it? "But, you should!" you say. Maybe you're right! Tell us about it. Our Suggest for Purchase form is your invitation to help us determine what we should add to our collection.
Library OnDemand – Programs available anytime you like on our YouTube channel.
Your doorway into live and archived programs. Arts & Culture, Career & Finance, Community Matters, Writers and more!
Preschoolers will enjoy this longer Storytime at the Central Resource Library with stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities to encourage pre-reading skills. Designed for ages 3 to 6 years and a caregiver. Siblings welcome.
It’s Never Too Late to Start Planning for College – Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7 – 8 p.m.
Learn how to invest early in a college savings plan to grow your funds over time. A 529 account can help you save for college, lower your taxes, offset the ever-increasing tuition costs, and perhaps reduce reliance on student loans. Join Teresa Stewart, 529 Business Development Consultant, as she provides information about the Kansas Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Plan and answers your questions. This program will be hosted using the meeting software Zoom. A Johnson County Library staff member will contact registrants via email the day before the meeting with instructions on how to access the Zoom meeting. You do not need to download any software or create an account.
Young writers ages 10-14 are invited to this one-hour collaborative writing club at the Merriam Community Center. Writing prompts, activities, and encouragement will be provided as we confront the blank page and build a community of writers with monthly meetings. Registration is required each month.
Community Film Screening: “Join or Die” – Thursday, Feb. 8, 5:30 – 7:30p.m.
“Join or Die” is a film about why you should join a club — and why the fate of America depends on it. In this feature documentary, follow the half-century story of America’s civic unraveling through the journey of legendary social scientist Robert (Bob) Putnam, whose groundbreaking “Bowling Alone” research into America’s decades-long decline in community connections could hold the answers to our democracy’s present crisis. To Register go to American Public Square .
Meet the Poets: Joaquin Zihuatanejo and Michael Kleber-Diggs, Moderated by Glenn North – Saturday, Feb. 10, 6:30 – 7:30p.m.
You just can’t miss this program at the Central Resource Library. What do you get when you put a world champion slam poet, and a Max Ritvo Poetry Prize winner in a room together? We won’t know for sure until it happens, but we’re confident it will be magic. Joaquin Zihuatanejo is the 2009 World Cup of Poetry Slam Champion. Michael Kleber-Diggs’ poetry collection Worldly Things won several prizes, including the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, the 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, the 2022 Balcones Poetry Prize, and the 2021 Poetry Center Book Award. While their work is similar, they are not the same. Listen as they share how they approach their work, where they find inspiration, and what they might learn from each other.
Johnson County Library is beginning to explore options for a potential new facility in Prairie Village, which could eventually replace the existing and outdated Corinth Library. Corinth Library users and residents of the surrounding areas will have several opportunities to provide input into conceptual design options during the first half of 2024:
In case you missed Public Meeting #1, there’s still time to provide comments and share your thoughts. If you were unable to attend the public meeting, complete the survey on the Community Center Campus Site Study page to provide your feedback.
Save the date for Public Meeting #2
The next in-person public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, 2024. The final public meeting for this phase of work is tentatively scheduled for June 2024.
Follow us on social media and watch this page for more information.