Black History Month

February 8, 2018

February is celebrated in the United States as Black History Month. 

The celebration is an opportunity to focus on the contributions and unique experiences of African Americans in the history and culture of the United States.

Although there are other heritage months-- Women’s History Month (March), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), Native American Heritage Month (November)—it is Black History Month which garners the most attention.

The observance began in 1926 by Black historian Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week.  As the week-long celebration gradually expanded into a month-long event, especially on college campuses, President Gerald Ford, in 1976, declared February as Black History Month.

UW WAK Display

**If you are interested in learning more about the power and resiliency of the Black voice in American life, check out a few of the resources offered to you courtesy of the UW Colleges Libraries.


African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 (NewsBank/Readex)

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 (NewsBank/Readex)
African American Music Reference (Alexander Street Press)

Black Drama (Alexander Street Press)

Umbra Search African American History


Digital Collections:

March on Milwaukee (UWM Digital Collection)



African American Studies Videos (Films on Demand)

Black History Month Films on Kanopy

African American Studies (Docuseek)

Black Studies (Alexander Street Press—includes resources beyond videos)



Wisconsin Black Historical Society

Wisconsin Historical Society: Black History in Wisconsin

African American History Month

NAACP (each week a new historical topic will be addressed on the group’s home page)

Black History Month on

28 Days, 28 Films for Black History Month (NYT)

NPR’s Black History Page

PBS Black Culture Connection

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

National Geographic Black History Month Resources

National Archives: Black History

American Chemical Society’s Resources for Black History Month


Examples of contemporary black literature & drama available in the Colleges libraries:

Land of love and drowning by Tiphanie Yanique is a story of family and magic in the Virgin Islands.

Boy, snow, bird by Helen Oyeyemi is a reimagining of the fairy tale Snow White recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity set in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

How to read the air by Dinaw Mengestu chronicles the journey of Jonas, a son of Ethiopian immigrants, who retraces his parents’ journey to the United States.

The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty is a coming-of-age tale about a young African American man’s search for identity.

Moonlight, the 2017 Best Picture winner, directed by Barry Jenkins is the tender story of a young boy’s journey to manhood amid the rough streets of Miami.

Mudbound directed by Dee Rees is the story of two World War II veterans – one black, one white – who return to their rural Mississippi home to face racism and life after war. (released on Netflix)

12 Years a Slave, the 2014 Best Picture winner, directed by Steve McQueen is the true story of a free black man who is captured and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South.

Selma directed by Ava DuVernay depicts the 1965 voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama.

Do the Right Thing directed by Spike Lee , the movie the Obamas saw on their first date, chronicles the events that take place on a sweltering, hot day in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.