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Black History & Heritage Month

Black History Month with black background, red, green, and yellow colors.Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.


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Famous People in Black History

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks sparked the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest led to a Supreme Court decision that segregation on public transportation was illegal. Full bio

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

One of the most talented and prolific writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Langston Hughes enjoyed a long and successful career as a poet and author of short stories, novels, magazine and newspaper articles, plays, and numerous other works. Full bio

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was the the first black, as well as the first woman, to ever seek a major political party's nomination for the U.S. presidency. She demonstrated that aspirations for the nation's executive office need not be the exclusive domain of white males. Full bio

John Coltrane

John Coltrane

Jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane led one of most influential groups in the history of jazz. Inspired by the music of Africa, India, and the Far East, Coltrane brought together musical and cultural elements to make him one of the founders of a world music consciousness. Full bio

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Prolific writer Zora Neale Hurston became one of the most published black female authors in her time and arguably the most important collector of African-American folklore ever. Full bio

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe's 1993 memoir, aptly titled Days of Grace, is a reflection on his brief but rich life as a champion tennis player, a father, an African-American man, and a compassionate and courageous human being. Full bio

Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin was the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, the first black woman to work as corporate counsel for the city of New York, the first black woman to be admitted to the Bar Association of the City of New York,  and the first black woman judge in the United States. Full bio

Alex Haley

Alex Haley

Alex Haley, wrote the fact-based book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Haley's account of his ancestor Kunta Kinte, who was captured by slave traders in 1767 and brought to America against his will, won a special Pulitzer Prize and a citation from the National Book Award committee. Full bio

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

After her escape from slavery in 1849, Harriet Tubman defiantly reentered the south approximately 19 times to lead more than 300 men, women, and children, to freedom via the 'Underground Railroad'. During the Civil War, Tubman served the North's Union Army as a nurse, scout, and spy.  Full bio

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

The first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall stood alone as the Supreme Court's liberal conscience toward the end of his career, the last impassioned spokesman on such causes as affirmative action, abolishment of the death penalty, and due process. Full bio

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

The life experiences of Maya Angelou--author, poet, actress, singer, dancer, playwright, director, producer--became the cornerstone of her most acclaimed work, a multivolume autobiography that traces the foundations of her identity as a twentieth-century American black woman. Full bio

Richard Wright

Richard Wright

Richard Wright stands as a major literary figure of the 1930s and '40s, his writings a departure from those of the Harlem Renaissance school. Steeped in the literary naturalism of the Depression era, Wright's work expresses a realistic and brutal portrayal of white society's oppression of African Americans.  Full bio


Black History Books @ MiraCosta Library

Raising Her Voice: African-American women journalists who changed history
Imagine a World: Pioneering black women sociologists
Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections from the deep South, 1964-1980
Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn
Thurgood Marshall: : His Speeches, Writings, Arguments, Opinions, and Reminiscences
Harriet Tubman: Abolitionist and Conductor of the Underground Railroad
African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House
Sojourner Truth's America
Critical Companion to Zora Neale Hurston
African American History Day by Day
The Great Black Migration: A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic
John Coltrane and Black America's Quest for Freedom
Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era

Black History Films @ MiraCosta Library

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks: African Americans Who Left Their Stamp on History

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born a granddaughter to former slaves. Her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in December of 1955, spurred the Montgomery Bus Boycott and became the catalyst that helped launch important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes: His Life and Times

Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and renowned Langston Hughes biographer Arnold Rampersad discuss experiences that shaped young Langston Hughes, how he came to be a writer, the beauty of his writing style, his practice of reaching out to aspiring writers, and the Harlem Renaissance as a literary and cultural watershed.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall: America's First African American Supreme Court Justice

In September 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson named Marshall the nation’s first black Solicitor General to conduct government legal action before the Supreme Court. At the age of 59, Marshall became the first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

And Still I Rise

Black America since MLK : And Still I Rise Out of the Shadows

The series begins at a turning point in American history: the Selma marches and Watts riots that marked a new phase in the black struggle. Gates explores the rising call for Black Power, redefining American culture, politics, and society.

Standing On My Sisters' Shoulders

Standing On My Sisters' Shoulders

A missing chapter in our nation's record of the Civil Rights movement, this powerful documentary reveals the movement in Mississippi in the 1950's and 60's from the point of view of the courageous women who lived it - and emerged as its grassroots leaders. Their living testimony offers a window into a unique moment when the founders' promise of freedom and justice passed from rhetoric to reality for all Americans.

Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison

This is the first documentary on one of the most gifted and intellectually provocative authors of modern American literature. It establishes Ralph Ellison as a central figure in contemporary debates over art, politics, race and nationhood. Narrated by Andre Braugher, the film brilliantly presents the first scenes ever filmed from Ellison's landmark novel, Invisible Man.

Richard Wright

Richard Wright: Black Boy

In this Emmy Award-winning film, explore the life, work and legacy of Richard Wright. Born outside Natchez, Mississippi in 1908, Wright overcame a childhood of poverty and oppression to become one of America's most influential writers. His first major works, Native Son and Black Boy, were runaway best sellers which are still mainstays of high school and college literature and composition classes.