Read books by Black authors and about Black history, events, arts and culture. A great place to start is with The Library’s Hari Jones collection. This collection, named for historian Hari Jones, includes fiction and nonfiction titles about the African-American experience. For additional suggestions, the New York Public Library has reading lists for Biographies & Memoirs, History Writing, Black Women in History and Picture Books. And you can find even more titles on their Schomburg Center Black Liberation Reading List.
Dive deeper into Black history with online resources. Websites like BlackPast and the National Archives’ African American History guide are two great online resources for Black history information. You can also use you library card to access Great Events from History: African American History and Milestone Documents in African American History through the Library’s databases.
Visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC). Whether you visit in person or explore their digital resources, the NMAAHC has a wealth of information about the history and culture of African-Americans.
Support local Black-owned businesses. Black-owned does not mean services for Blacks only. These businesses serve the whole community in many fields. You can find a comprehensive list of Central Pennsylvania businesses in the Black Business Directory. The directory also includes some great articles on the history of Black fireman, barbers, chefs and photographers.
Visit the Black Culture Connection on the PBS website. Here you will find ways to explore Black history and culture though films, stories, and voices across public media. In addition to media, it includes quizzes and a Talk Back section where you can weigh in on a variety of topics.
Celebrate Black History All Year Long
As we reach this year's close of our nation’s annual observance of Black History Month, I thought I would share some of its history. And since many people believe that the observance should not be limited to just one month, I’ll also share a few ways that you can continue to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans all year long.
The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to 1915 when Dr. Carter Godwin Goodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Goodson felt that the accomplishments made by people of African descent were getting lost. The Association sought to document the important role that Black people played in the development and strengthening of this country. To educate people about these contributions, it began publishing the Journal of Negro History in 1916.
By 1926, many Black schools and communities acknowledged the importance of Black history. But Goodson wanted people and their achievements to be celebrated across the country. To that end, the Association announced that “Negro History Week” was to be celebrated nation-wide from February 5-12, 1926. That celebration became an annual event that was held the second week of February. In 1976, President Gerald Ford proclaimed that the commemoration of Black history should last the entire month of February.
In his 2022 proclamation of the observance, President Joseph Biden said that “Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture, and Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America” It is because of this that many Americans recognize the importance of learning about and acknowledging this history all year long.
Here are some ways you can support this endeavor throughout the year:
This is just a small sampling of the ways you can celebrate Black history all year long. I encourage you to try at least one of them in the coming year.