February marks Black History Month, a month-long observance in the United States and Canada that recognizes the significant contributions of African-Americans to American history, as well as the historical legacies of the African diaspora. We hope you’ll find the stories below, and the scholarship they include in full, a valuable resource for classroom or leisure reading.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Duke University on November 13, 1964

Colleges’ Reluctant Embrace of MLK Day

The push for a national Martin Luther King holiday prompted a fierce political tug-of-war, on campus and off.
Student in a Black Studies class in a west side Chicago classroom, 1973

African American Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

This non-exhaustive list of readings in African American Studies highlights the vibrant history of the discipline and introduces the field.
Smoke billowing over Tulsa, Oklahoma during 1921 race riots

The Devastation of Black Wall Street

Tulsa, Oklahoma. 1921. A wave of racial violence destroys an affluent African-American community, seen as a threat to white-dominated American capitalism.
African American graveyard

Grave Robbing, Black Cemeteries, and the American Medical School

In the 19th century, students at American medical schools stole the corpses of recently-buried African Americans to be used for dissection.
Bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at HCLS Miller Branch.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Became Black in America

Adichie speaks on the meaning of blackness, sexism in Nigeria, and whether the current feminist movement leaves out black women.
Martin Luther King in 1957

The African Roots of MLK’s Vision

“Ghana tells us that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice… An old order of colonialism, of segregation, discrimination is passing away now.”
Dorothy B Porter

What Dorothy Porter’s Life Meant for Black Studies

Dorothy Porter, a Black woman pioneer in library and information science, created an archive that structured a new field.
A sleeping car porter employed by the Pullman Company at Union Station in Chicago, Illinois.

The Historic Achievement of the Pullman Porter’s Union

The achievements of the Pullman Porter's Union were a significant civil rights victory for both U.S. labor and the civil liberties of African-Americans. 
Phillis Wheatley

The Privileged and Impoverished Life of Phillis Wheatley

The first African American of either gender to publish a book of poetry has remained a controversial figure in the black community.
It is the bean, that we mean, so white and lean.

What It Was Like To Be an African-American Soldier During the Civil War

What was it like to be one of the 186,017 African Americans who served in the Union Army during the Civil War?

Remembering Billie Holiday

The 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birth.
Grandchildren of slaves.

How an Ex-Slave Successfully Won a Case for Reparations in 1783

In one of the earliest examples of reparations, an ex-slave named Belinda petitioned the government and was granted an annuity.
Photograph of Septima Clark, ca. 1960, Avery Photo Collection, 10-9, Courtesy of the Avery Research Center.

How Septima Poinsette Clark Spoke Up for Civil Rights

The daughter of a slave, Septima Clark graduated from college, became a teacher, and became a fierce advocate for social and cultural change.  
Shirley Chisholm and Rosa Parks

The Significance of Shirley Chisholm’s Presidential Campaign

Shirley Chisholm: the first black female U.S. Representative, first black major-party candidate for President, and the first Democratic Party woman to run.

The Story of Juneteenth

This year marks the 151st celebration of the holiday known as Juneteenth and few places will celebrate with ...
"March," John Lewis' Civil Rights Comic Book

Remembering the Civil Rights Movement…With Comics

Comic-Cons and civil rights rarely intersect, but if one person could make that happen it’s Congressman John Lewis. ...

The Lasting Fallout of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

A new paper provides evidence that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study reduced the life expectancy of African-American men—though the Tuskegee Syphilis Study ...
Women's March

How Women’s Studies Erased Black Women

The founders of Women’s Studies were overwhelmingly white, and focused on the experiences of white, heterosexual women.
Howard square dance

The Slave Roots of Square Dancing

Square Dancing's lily-white reputation hides something unexpected: A deep African-American history that's rooted in a legacy of slavery. 
World War II Veterans

The Inequality Hidden Within the Race-Neutral G.I. Bill

While the G.I. Bill itself was progressive, much of the country still functioned under both covert and blatant segregation.
Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison on Race

Ralph Ellison believed fiercely in the American project and in the centrality of black people to it.
Memphis bridge

The People’s Grocery Lynching, Memphis, Tennessee

On March 2, 1892, in Memphis, Tennessee, a racially charged mob grew out of a fight between a black and a white youth near People’s Grocery.

We’ll be adding more stories related to Black History Month throughout February.

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