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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Celebrating Black History Month @ Your Library

Welcome to Black History Month 2015! This yearly celebration of the African diaspora and their history and accomplishments provides an excellent learning opportunity for us all. The first observance of African culture, started by Carter G. Woodson in 1926, was known as Negro History Week. Fifty years later, in 1976, President Gerald Ford lengthened the event to the entire month of February. (

If you're looking for print resources on African-Americans, the Mississippi Library Commission is the place for you. Here are some of our favorites:

Black Heroes
Jessie Carney Smith

This book contains profiles of many African Americans, both well-known and obscure.

Q. Civil rights activist James Howard Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962. What was his name at birth?
A. "Moses 'Cap' Meredith named his son J. H. Meredith to prevent whites from calling him simply by his first name" (468).

African American Firsts: Famous, Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America
Joan Potter 

This text offers a plethora of Black firsts sure to intrigue any history buff.

Q. Who created the first golf tee?
A. "In December 1899, Dr. George F. Grant, an African-American dentist and an amateur golfer, received a patent for a wooden golf tee. Before his invention, golfers had to balance their balls on mounds of damp sand" (341).

African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations: The History, Customs, and Symbols Associated with Both Traditional and Contemporary Religious and Secular Events Observed by Americans of African Descent
Kathlyn Gay

This resource outlines all of the holidays, festivals, societies, and events with African-American themes.

Q. What was the first black sorority?
A. Alpha Kappa Alpha, "the first black sorority was formed in 1908 by nine women at Howard University in Washington, D. C." (189).

African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage and Excellence
Lean'tin Bracks

Here is another compilation of short biographies. It also includes sections on African-American history.

Q. Who was the first black woman bishop in any of the large American denominations?
A. Leontine T. C. Kelly, born in Washington, D. C. in 1920, was elected a bishop in the United Methodist Church in 1984 (126).

We'll be posting more information about Black History Month and the achievements of African-Americans over the next month. If you can't wait for more tidbits, check out this website, which provides audio/video files, images, and lesson plans on the topic, as well as great information on historical events.

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