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.
Radical Black Voices
Carter G. Woodson, The Father of Black History Month
February 12, 2015
The origins of Black History Month date back to 1926, when a historian named Carter G. Woodson spearheaded “Negro History Week.”
Cedric Robinson and the Black Radical Tradition
November 11, 2021
Cedric Robinson proposed that the Black radical tradition was necessitated into existence by “racial capitalism.”
In the McCarthy Era, to Be Black Was to Be Red
November 13, 2019
The Marxist sympathies of Black radical leaders like Paul Robeson, Alice Childress, and Lorraine Hansberry made them targets for the FBI.
Stokely Carmichael, Radical Teacher
June 21, 2021
The civil rights leader who changed his name to Kwame Ture encouraged students in the Mississippi Freedom Schools to think critically.
Tuskegee University’s Hidden Audio Collections
February 21, 2020
The archives of the historically black Tuskegee University recently released recordings from 1957 to 1971, with a number by powerful civil rights leaders.
The Real Story of Black Anarchists
September 5, 2020
Often in the news today, anarchism is widely misunderstood. One myth is that it's a movement for white people.
Building Black Community Spaces
How Black Radio Changed the Dial
May 30, 2022
Black-appeal stations were instrumental in propelling R&B into the mainstream while broadcasting news of the ever-growing civil rights movement.
The Black Church and Mental Health Support
October 9, 2022
Mental healthcare has not always been accessible for Black Americans. Could churches be part of the solution?
The First Black-Owned Bookstore and the Fight for Freedom
July 10, 2020
Black abolitionist David Ruggles opened the first Black-owned bookstore in 1834, pointing the way to freedom—in more ways than one.
Freedom Libraries and the Fight for Library Equity
January 10, 2022
Freedom libraries in the south provided Black residents with access to spaces and books, whether in church basements or private homes.
Teaching Black Women’s Self-Care during Jim Crow
October 6, 2021
Maryrose Reeves Allen founded a wellness program at Howard University in 1925 that emphasized the physical, mental, and spiritual health of Black women.
How Black CB Radio Users Created an Audible Community
November 18, 2021
CB radio was portrayed as a mostly white enthusiasm in its heyday, but Black CB users were active as early as 1959.
How Black-Owned Record Stores Helped Create Community
December 7, 2020
What was it like for Black American music lovers during the age of segregation to find a place they could call their own?
How a Southern College Tried to Resist Segregation
August 20, 2021
The founder of Kentucky's Berea College was an abolitionist. While he was alive, the school offered a free education for both Black and white students.
Who Were the Montford Point Marines?
June 26, 2019
The first African-American recruits in the Marine Corps trained at Montford Point, eventually ending the military’s longstanding policy of racial segregation.
Desegregating Bowling Alleys
December 14, 2021
The bowling desegregation movement began during World War II, but wouldn’t end there.
How Black Communities Built Their Own Schools
August 4, 2020
Rosenwald schools, named for a philanthropist, were funded mostly by Black people of the segregated South.
How St. Louis Domestic Workers Fought Exploitation
January 26, 2021
Without many legal protections under the New Deal, Black women organized through the local Urban League.
Highlighting Overlooked Black History
Challenging Race and Gender Roles, One Photo at a Time
July 2, 2022
Florestine Perrault Collins escaped the bounds of prescribed gender roles and racial segregation to run a successful photography studio in 1920s New Orleans.
The Groundbreaking Work of Jackie Ormes
April 17, 2022
The first Black woman to have a regularly published comic strip, Ormes gave form to the political and social concerns of Black Americans.
Introducing “Archives Unbound”
February 24, 2022
In her new column, Dorothy Berry offers an inside look at the work of the digital archivist, while highlighting forgotten figures in Black print culture and public life.
How an Unrealized Art Show Created an Archive of Black Women’s Art
April 25, 2022
Records from a cancelled exhibition reveal the challenges faced by Black feminist artists and curators in the 1970s.
Black Cowboys and the History of the Rodeo
February 11, 2021
Long overlooked in histories of the West, African-American rodeo stars also faced discrimination and erasure in that sport, too.
Searching for Black Queer History in Sensational Newspapers
March 14, 2019
Sometimes finding the stories of marginalized populations demands reading between the lines.
Black Images and the Politics of Beauty
March 1, 2021
How Black-owned charm schools and modeling agencies challenged stereotypes of African American women after World War II.
Black History in Literature, Science, & the Arts
How Wattstax Ushered in a New Era of Black Art
August 4, 2022
Organized in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts uprising, the music festival showed that something powerful was happening in the Black community.
The Short but Influential Run of Ebony and Topaz
February 26, 2022
The 1927 art and literature magazine only ran for a single issue, but “proved an integral component of Harlem Renaissance cultural production."
The Los Angeles Renaissance
June 13, 2022
Black composers Bruce Forsythe and Claudius Wilson transcended barriers to create concert and classical music during this West Coast art movement.
Donald Goines, Detroit’s Crime Writer Par Excellence
February 9, 2022
The writer used hard-boiled fiction as a wide lens to accurately capture the widescreen disparity of Black life in the 1970s.
The New Negro and the Dawn of the Harlem Renaissance
January 25, 2021
In 1925, an anthology of Black creative work heralded the arrival of a movement that had been years in the making.
Why MLK Believed Jazz Was the Perfect Soundtrack for Civil Rights
October 16, 2019
Jazz, King declared, was the ability to take the “hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.”
The 1910 Report That Disadvantaged Minority Doctors
May 3, 2019
A century ago, the Flexner Report led to the closure of 75% of U.S. medical schools. It still explains a lot about today’s unequal access to healthcare.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan”
May 6, 2019
Born into slavery, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield broke barriers with every note she sang.
More Black History Roundups
Celebrating Black Artists
February 12, 2021
Profiles of Betye Saar, Krista Franklin, Miles Davis, Basquiat, Kanye West, Faith Ringgold and more.
Black Women, Black Freedom
February 8, 2021
Celebrating Black History Month with a look at the role of women in movements for liberation.
15 Black Women Who Should Be (More) Famous
June 19, 2020
Honoring the scientists, poets, activists, doctors, and librarians--those we know and those we don't.
We’ll be adding more stories related to Black History Month throughout February.