Black History Month

Reaching for the Moon book cover

 

Katherine Johnson was a talented mathematician in a field dominated by white men.

After graduating high school at the age of 15 in the midst of the Great Depression, she earned a full scholarship to West Virginia State Institute's math department. Johnson briefly taught high school and then in 1940 was one of the first Black graduate students chosen to integrate West Virginia University.

In 1953 she began work as a research mathematician for what would become NASA. Katherine Johnson shattered barriers for all women, but particularly for Black women, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

To celebrate the inspirational life of Katherine Johnson, check out the resources below or explore NASA's website. Learn about her and other amazing barrier-breaking mathematicians and scientists.

This is Johnson's autobiography, but there are many books to introduce readers to her life in the Children's Biography collection.

As we near the end of Black History Month, we can look to the future as well. Although the term "afrofuturism" was coined in the 1990s, the works that it is used to describe have been around for much longer. Afrofuturistic books, movies, and music explore the intersection of science fiction, fantasy, technology, and the cultural experience of Black people around the world. If you're curious about this genre, the following books, movies, and albums at the Library are a great place to start:

Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.

Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

Seventeen-year-old Zelie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

Looking for books to read with your child for Black History Month? Here are just a few of our books we have about African American history and African American biographies. 

Dream big, little one by Vashti Harrison

We owe the celebration of Black History Month to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of slaves who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. He launched Negro History Week in 1926 in order to bring national attention to the contributions of blacks throughout American history. Woodson chose the second week of February for this recognition because it marks the birthdays of two men whose lives greatly influenced the black American population — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The celebration evolved into Black History Month (also known as African-American History Month) - in 1976.

 

If you enjoyed reading about Melody Ellison, the American Girl character who lives in Detroit in the 1960s, you might be interested in these titles.

Fiction

To gain leadership skills needed to run a cupcake-baking empire when she grows up, Brianna runs for president of the fifth grade--expecting little competition--until a new girl enters the race.

Everybody is talking about Black Panther: the actors, the director, the characters, the rivalries, the music, the clothing, the politics. Take a look at some of the library materials featuring the filmmaker and cast, artists on the soundtrack, and the writers of the comic series, as well as other graphic novels and books about African and African-American history, heroes, and icons.

MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winner T- Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) takes the helm, confronting T'Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt - but can its monarch survive the necessary change? Collecting: Black Panther 1-4

Acclaimed alternative R&B artist SZA releases a brand new album. The first single, Love Galore, features Travis Scott. The album also includes the track Drew Barrymore and appearances from Kendrick Lamar and RZA..

20 More Great Reads for Black History Month

Death of a king: the real story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final year by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz

 

 

 

 

 

Children of fire: a history of African Americans by Thomas C. Holt

 

 

 

 

Say it loud: great speeches on civil rights and African American identity by edited by Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith

 

Stokely: a life by Peniel E. Joseph

 

 

 

 

Across that bridge: life lessons and a vision for change by John Lewis ; with Brenda Jones

 

 

 

 

A compelling combination of storytelling and science, this series uses genealogy, oral histories, family stories and DNA to trace roots of several accomplished African Americans down through American history and back to Africa.

Explore with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed - forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds.

Explores the life and career of tennis player Althea Gibson, who overcame obstacles in the highly segregated tennis world of the 1950s.

More Movies for Black History Month

Betty & Coretta [videodisc] by produced by Yves Simoneau and Jacqueline Lavoie ; written by Shem Bitterman and Ron Hutchinson ; directed by Yves Simoneau

 

 

The butler by a Weinstein Company release and presentation of a Lura Ziskin production in association with Windy Hill Pictures, Follow Through Productions, Salamander Pictures, and Pam Williams Productions ; produced by Pam Williams, Laura Ziskin, Lee Daniels, Buddy Patrick, Cassian Elwes ; directed by Lee Daniels ; screenplay, Danny Strong

 

 

42 [videodisc]: the Jackie Robinson story by Warner Bors. Pictures ; Legendary Picture Funding ; director and writer, Brian Helgeland ; producer, Thomas Tull

 

 

Fruitvale Station by produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker ; written and directed by Ryan Coogler

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of Mississippi [videodisc] by Castle Rock Entertainment

 

 

 

 

More Documentaries for Black History Month

The abolitionists [videodisc] by written, directed, and produced by Rob Rapley

 

 

Citizen King [videodisc] by a ROJA Productions film for American experience ; in association with the BBC and WGBH Boston

 

 

 

 

The fight [videodisc] by produced by Barak Goodman

 

 

 

 

Jesse Owens [videodisc] by a Firelight Films production for American Experience in association with WDR ; produced and directed by Laurens Grant ; written and produced by Stanley Nelson

 

 

 

 

Letters from Jackie [videodisc]: the private thoughts of Jackie Robinson by MLB Productions

 

 

 

 

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