This is a guest blog post by Melissa Santosa.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month blossomed from the advocacy work done by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an educator, historian, and author who wanted to document the contributions of African Americans to the United States. As a teacher, he saw that school curriculums excluded the history of Black Americans. He was committed to teaching his students about their legacy in order to guide them towards a brighter future.
In 1915, he co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now named the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, whose mission is to "to promote, research, preserve, interpret, and disseminate information about Black life, history, and culture to the global community."
In 1926, he created Black History Week to take place in February to commemorate the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. On the 50th Anniversary of Black History Week, it was expanded into Black History Month in 1976 with national recognition. To learn more about Carter G. Woodson, please check out this booklist.
Black History in Alameda County
Black history is living history. We all benefit from the current contributions of African Americans in music, politics, sports, art, transportation, food, healthcare, and culture in our community. Alameda County is one of the most diverse counties in the U.S. and it demonstrates our values to recognize the achievements of the past while working towards full equity and inclusion in the present.
Black History Month Programs at AC Library
- Bring Your Own Book Club on February 18 - Choose a book by a Black author or Black subject to share and discuss with others in the virtual program.
- Listen Inn - Dial 1-833-990-BOOK (2665) at anytime of day or night to listen to recordings that celebrate Black History Month.
- Storytime - Children and families are welcome to participate in an online program that shares fun and uplifting stories.
- Craft kits - Create art that celebrates Black culture and invention with our free craft kits.
Check Out Recommended Books by AC Library Staff
Historical, creative, and theoretical writings centered on Black lives.
Take a deeper dive into Black history and experiences in the U.S. with this collection of modern titles.
Check out a few of these fictional YA #OwnVoices books, most are also available digitally!
How to Celebrate Black History Month Beyond February
One month is not enough time to learn all that we need to know about Black history. So, how do we expand our learning and celebration throughout the year? Here are some ideas:
- Join a virtual book club to read books written by African American authors that have Black main characters or subject matter.
- Donate money to organizations that provide employment, education, recreation, housing, mental health services, or artistic opportunities for Black youth and adults.
- Watch a documentary about Black history; here is a short one: Sound Smart: The Great Migration.
- Cook a dish with a recipe from a Black chef and learn about their culinary traditions.
- Buy books from Black-owned bookstores such as Marcus Books and Ashay By The Bay.
- Visit a virtual exhibition at a museum. Check out National Museum of African American History and Culture or Museum of the African Diaspora.
- Follow Black leaders and activists on social media and listen to their perspectives.
- Teach Black history with classroom resources from Learning for Justice.
- Attend a local Kwanzaa event during the holiday season.
- Get outside and enjoy nature with Outdoor Afro.
- Practice self-care with Black-led Resources for Mental Health.
- Discover the impact of Black inventions Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier.
- Speak up when you see racial inequity and discrimination.
- Give a child the gift of Black doll and learn about the “doll test”.
- Order take-out or delivery from a Black-owned restaurant.
- Amplify the voices of Black neighbors, colleagues, and friends.
- Learn about Claudette Colvin and her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
- Help someone register to vote and read the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
- Listen to podcasts with Black hosts.
- Support Black-led organizations like Oakland LGBTQ Community Center.
- Watch a Black awards show on television.
- Look for beauty brands that are Black-owned and use their products.